Unambiguous Spindication




From top: Enda Kenny (left) and Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s Six One last night; Anne-Marie McNally

This just spin.

Enda Kenny did not fire the Garda Commissioner.

Are we clear?

Anne-Marie McNally writes:

When you’re a school kid you wait anxiously for your end of year report. You try and get a gander at it before the parents set eyes on it and all hell breaks loose.

When you’re the Taoiseach of the country it’s water off a duck’s back. At this stage Enda has so many reports coming at him that he doesn’t know if he’s a news editor or a politician.

Each report or inquiry represents its own little scandal. Each little scandal got kicked to touch at some stage along the way by the Taoiseach announcing (in his gravest voice) that a commission of investigation will be established and a report will be produced.

What Enda forgets is that at some stage, the ball will come back in from touch when the report is finally ready. But don’t worry, Enda’s got a game plan for that as well – he gathers the Cabinet into a team huddle, they touch knuckles and shout ‘SPIN’ before rushing off in different directions to the various media outlets to get their version out before most journalists have had a chance to open the front cover of said report.

We witnessed it in all its spinning glory just last evening. The Fennelly Report arises from the Fennelly Commission which was tasked with investigating various matters of public interest relating to An Garda Siochanna and the circumstances surrounding the ‘resignation’ of the Garda Commissioner.

The report landed in the public sphere around 5pm Tuesday evening.  Enda & Co had gotten a copy on Monday evening, held a meeting with the current Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice on Tuesday morning, but kept schtum all day Tuesday.

When the 288 page report was dropping on journalists desks on Tuesday evening Enda was already en-route to Montrose all set to give his spiel on Six One.

Enda assured Bryan Dobson that the report fully vindicated him; not only had he not sacked the Commissioner but he’d never even pushed him into retiring. Bryan probed and prodded Enda (in so much as he could given that he hadn’t had time to read the report) but Enda held firm – nothing to see here, the Commissioner resigned of his own volition and this is a storm in a tea cup.

Oh, and we have full confidence in the Government appointed Attorney-General, Marie Whelan who the report found had been at the heart of the ‘communication issues’ which led to the significant confusion regarding Alan Shatter’s knowledge of the Garda taping issue.

Enda’s yarn was spun to the nation by 6:30pm. At that stage Journalists were getting to grips with the actual reality of the report.

Enda’s assertions that he had not sacked the Commissioner and had nothing to do with his retirement seemed to sit in stark contrast to the report’s findings that Enda had sent the Secretary General of the Department , Brian Purcell, to the Commissioner’s home late on a Sunday evening in what was described as an ‘unprecedented move’.

It went on to say that Mr Purcell – who described it as the ‘worst day of his life’-informed the Commissioner that the Taoiseach didn’t have full confidence in him.

Essentially the entire point of the visit was to encourage the Commissioner to consider his position. When the Commissioner said he planned to retire in 3 months, he was informed the next morning, by Enda, that his retirement must be immediate. But he wasn’t pushed out at all, at all. Right so Ted.

My point here is an obvious one. We can have all the reports in the world – and we almost do at this stage – but unless we take the time to read, interpret, and understand exactly what they find then we are left at the mercy of a well-oiled spin machine who will paint a very different picture to the reality.

We would do well to remember that and make an effort to become the eagle-eyed parents awaiting the report card no matter how hard the kid tries to spin us a good news story.

Anne-Marie McNally is a Political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and The Social Democrats. Opinions expressed may not necessarily be shared by her employers. Follow her on Twitter: @amomcnally

22 thoughts on “Unambiguous Spindication

  1. Clampers Outside!

    Why is the focus on the Commissioner, he had to go anyway due to the “systemic” corruption within the higher echelons of the Garda force…. and if Enda put pressure on him to go, so what? He had to go.

    From what I’ve seen and heard, Enda couldn’t fire him without consulting cabinet or what ever. He didn’t do that. But he didn’t fire him either, he put pressure on him …because he had to go.

    It’s the kinda thing that should be happening, pushing out the old cliques that are wholly corrupt, and demoralising the Gardai to the point that many younger Gardaí are leaving.

    So, Enda did a good thing… so why deny it? I’m lost… anyone?

  2. Tony Stanza

    At the end of the day, that’s quite the mixed bag of sports metaphors, played at 110%, leaving nothing on the pitch and all credit to the lads.

    “If we can hit that bullseye the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards, checkmate!”

  3. Mr S

    Julian Mercille trotting out Rory Hearne’s policies on a Monday and Anne-Marie McNally spinning for The Social Democrats on a Wednesday.

    Thanks Broadsheet but can you not give us voices which aren’t usually given airtime?

    And yes, Enda should go.

  4. ivan

    So my question has to be, why do news organisations “deal” with a story without the full facts known to journalists? I mean, in this manner, RTE should have said ‘we’ll deal with it at nine’ rather than booking Enda in for six; Enda wanted to be on the telly *more* than RTE wanted him on, I’d think.

    I understand reporting on a thing as matters unfold. Mysterious explosion gives way to bomb blast. No injuries becomes a few injured. Certainly where something is happening live, I can appreciate reports being revised (though that’s not to excuse groundless speculation) but the question still stands.

    “Why do supposedly self respecting hacks take on board the govt spin and publish it without question?”

    1. Pip

      Spot on, ivan. Makes the supposedly sophisticated (and highly paid) media seem like nothing more than a highly polished delivery system. Not good enough.

  5. Frilly Keane

    The only thing that’ll get ahead of this in the news now
    Is a date for the General
    Or maybe annuder referendum

  6. Vote Rep #1

    People were crying out for Callinan to go yet when he did, its a bad thing? I doubt he was told to go but it was put to him in such a way that he felt he had to go. Which was a good thing because he was awful. Putting in his right hand woman was then a stupid idea

    1. scottser

      Callinan was indeed an arrogant person and it was great that he went. the commission is a farce and a waste of money, just so Enda can keep his bottom covered.

  7. Louise Hannon

    The whole point of this message is not about Callinan having to go or stay. The simple point is Enda’s spin ( lies to you and me ) Do we want this man as our leader?

    1. Fergus the magic postman

      He’s a slimy no good for nothin’ dirty cheatin’ hateful piece of work, who looks upon anyone who is wise to his ways with unbridled contempt.

  8. fluffybiscuits

    The spin doctor machine will be earning its over time in the next 24 hours for Inda and his cronies. They will make the junior doctors look like slackers such will be the hours they put into this one. If this were a normal job Callinan had then this would be constructive dismissal in my book, I mean come on “hen the Commissioner said he planned to retire in 3 months, he was informed the next morning, by Enda, that his retirement must be immediate”. Someone is told they have a vote of no confidence and then they are expected to remain in the job? The emphasis is on the ‘resignation’ of Callinan. Dobbo didnt get a chance to read the report but that should not deter Pravda from giving him a going over once they get their chance to read the report and prove they are truly not scare of government opinion. Purcells describes it as the worst day of his life in a move that was not seen before and the attorney general gets torn to shreds over the communication of the issue of the tape in garda stations – such ineptitude would see them fired in any other part of the world. This is where sites like Broadsheet, Rabble, thejournal (chuckle thejournal) take up the mantle and get some editorials done that offer an alternative view. Get Julien Mercille, Dan Boyle or Ming to write a few pieces and lets lead the attack on the establishment because its going to be as sure as hell that the DOB media wont…

  9. Mr. T.

    We all know most of what we read in the news is pure spin. They know it too. They know we know.

    So why is it allowed to continue? Because sometimes it suits your agenda.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Very true.

      But, I think awareness of spin has never been at a higher point in this country, but that doesn’t mean those asleep, including myself at times, won’t lap it up without question at times …because it’s what we wanted to hear. We’re all guilty of that at one time or a few other.

  10. ProvingGround

    Anyone actually remember the full set of nefarious circumstances and chain of events that triggered this report?

    Deflection wrapped in deflection inside deflection.

    Job done as far as the government are concerned.

  11. Marie

    This is a great piece to read for an ordinary joe like me. Really like the way this woman writes stuff.

Comments are closed.