Anthony Sheridan: Meet The New Host, Same As The Old Host


From top: RTÉ Radio One presenter Sarah McInerney; Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald; Anthony Sheridan

Former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke never made a secret of his contempt for Sinn Fein. At times his contempt bordered on outright hatred as he interrogated and insulted members of that party at every opportunity.

For O’Rourke, journalistic objectivity was never as important as keeping Sinn Féin away from the levers of power.

Sarah McInerney, O’Rourke’s replacement, seems intent on continuing in his biased footsteps.

We witnessed the latest example of this unprincipled journalism in what has become a regular RTÉ strategy when it comes to Sinn Féin – the propaganda ambush.

The ambush followed an interview of the Sinn Fein leader by the Sunday Independent. The Independent is a propaganda newspaper with a rabid hatred of Sinn Féin so it was no surprise that the interview was manipulated to demonise Mary Lou McDonald and her party.

Someone in RTE then apparently decided to follow up on the Independent’s rogue journalism by setting up their own propaganda ambush, Sarah McInerney seemed more than happy to cooperate.

I should make clear, this article is not about Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein or the IRA. Those interested in how McDonald handled the interview can listen back here on the RTÉ website.

This article is about how media organisations with a particular agenda, such as RTÉ, set out to damage the credibility or reputation of certain people and organisations who are considered a threat to the political status quo.

The form and delivery of questions asked are crucial if such ambushes are to be successful. In this case the strategy used by RTÉ/McInerney can be broken down into three parts.

One: Ask a question that’s impossible to answer.

Two: Repeatedly and forcibly put the question in pursuit of self-condemnation while ignoring all answers given in defence.

Three: Include a deeply emotional element to the question.

The impossible to answer question consisted of two parts:

Was the IRA justified in killing people, and, would you have taken up arms in the conflict?

While repeatedly putting the question RTE/McInerney introduced the emotional element of the ambush by exploiting the death of a 13 year child in the conflict.

Do you really think it was justified to kill a 13 year old child?

Over three thousand people died in the Northern Ireland conflict. Tens of thousands suffered serious physical and psychological injuries. British soldiers, police officers, Unionists militia, the IRA and the British Government all engaged in the killing.

In a propaganda ambush it is important to leave out this bigger picture because it provides objective context that could weaken the damaging impact of the strategy.

RTÉ/McInerney didn’t need or indeed expect McDonald to actually say the killing of children was justified in the conflict.

It was only necessary to repeatedly throw the deceitful question at her to create an impression in the minds of listeners that McDonald was being dishonestly evasive and therefore guilty in some way – damage done, mission accomplished.

We know this was a propaganda ambush because the Northern Ireland conflict ended 22 years ago with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

To demand explanations from one party to the agreement so long after the conflict has ended without context and without demanding the same explanations from all other parties is clearly an exercise in propaganda.

Practically the entire world, including the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the vast majority of citizens in the Republic and the United Kingdom, accepted the agreement and by so doing recognised Sinn Fein as a legitimate political party that was genuinely intent on pursuing its policies by peaceful means only.

Only two groups rejected the agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party and the political establishment in the Republic. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael along with fellow travellers such as  Michael McDowell have never accepted what the world has accepted, that Sinn Féin is a legitimate political party.

By so doing they are, effectively, rejecting the Good Friday Agreement.

Their motive is as cynical as it is self-serving – Sinn Féin, as an outsider, poses a major threat to the exclusive power the established parties have wielded since independence. A power they have consistently abused at great cost to the quality of Irish democracy and the interests of Irish citizens.

The Irish media, led by RTÉ, is overwhelmingly conservative and pro establishment. The historic and, for the establishment, shocking public endorsement of Sinn Fein in the recent election has panicked them into abandoning all semblance of objectivity and professionalism in defence of that establishment.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)


80 thoughts on “Anthony Sheridan: Meet The New Host, Same As The Old Host

  1. Joe

    Excellent article. RTE’s journalism has frequently descended to the gutter level and no more so when interviewing Sinn Fein members. Any time the Status Quo is questioned on any aspect of society, outside of politics as well, RTE is always in the forefront of its defense. Time for change!

    1. :-Joe


      Is this a consensus forming of great Joe’s thinking alike or the biased agenda of some bizarre cult?
      – You decide.. If you can tell the difference?

      :-J – https://w

  2. scottser

    some idiot will be on to remind us that a vote for sinn fein is a vote for murder in 5,4,3,2,1….

    1. Rob_G

      Sure we don’t need him for that – regular Mary Lou has already said she would have taken part in the violence and extortion, if only she had been fortunate enough to have been born a little earlier

    2. M

      I think a vote for Sinn Fein is a vote for British intelligence.

      But I’m weird like that.

  3. Brian Sammon

    History is alive, and should have to take its chances with the present.
    Sinn Fein would do well to condemn modern day atrocities perpetrated in concert with leading party figures and have done with it.

    1. Rob_G

      Why would they condemn it – they don’t believe it was wrong. Instead they do the opposite, and attend the commemorations of dead patriots who bravely blew up children in fish shops.

  4. b

    “One: Ask a question that’s impossible to answer.”

    the point is always that every other party politician would find these questions very easy to answer

    1. GiggidyGoo

      I’d like to know what FGs / Michael Noonan’s reply to this would be. How easy would it be to answer?
      “Was FG justified in its part in returning Grace to her hell hole?”

      1. Rob_G

        For a man who claims not to be a SF supporter, you sure are very quick to introduce some whataboutery to any thread that criticises them.

        1. scottser

          and yet criticism of sinn fein is nothing short of a masterclass in whataboutery.

          1. Rob_G

            I’m not sure you understand the term ‘whataboutery’: a journalist asking a politician about statements that they have made in a previous interview does not fall under the term whataboutery.

          2. scottser

            asking someone a question about what they would do in a different time, place and context isn’t fair or relevant to what they would do now.
            ‘so leo, if you lived in the 30’s as a gay man in ireland would you have taken out your self loathing from within the ranks of the christian brothers? donned a blue shirt and followed the irish brigade to spain? or would you have preferred the decadence of berlin?’

          3. Rob_G

            It would, if he had have said in a previous interview “d’you know, if I had have been around in the 30s’, I might have went off to fight for the fascists”, then yes, it would be relevant.

        2. GiggidyGoo

          Debate is what I’d term it Rob. But sure, like a few others, attack the poster and not the post.
          I just posted a valid reply to b, seeing as he made a statement that invited such a question. Sauce for the goose and all that.

  5. Kolmo

    That’s a reasonable analysis, I think most people see what is happening though, RTE/FFG incestuous media partners and the shouty pub bore tabloids of the off-shore billionaire-backed Independent group overestimate their influence and importance.

  6. Mobi

    This is utter rubbish.

    When people in this party refuse to answer questions like “were you in the IRA” honestly/at all you can’t condemn RTE for aggressively pursuing that and other such issues.

    An unbalanced article such as the above discussing an unbalanced approach to Sinn Fein by RTE doesn’t really achieve much.

    Sinn Fein do get a hard time but it is their own fault to be fair.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      When they answer the question, you’re the judge for all then to say whether it’s honest or not? If you say it’s not honest, then you know what to do then – bring the truth to the PSNI and Gardai. If you can’t do that, then you can’t say whether an answer is honest or not.

      1. b

        “Hello….is that the Guards? Can you get down to Montrose please? There’s a politician on the radio not answering a question honestly”

      2. MaryLou's ArmaLite

        Usual hypocrisy from SF/IRA, ye spent decades kneecapping for talking to the authorities.

        Remember a vote for SF/IRA is a vote for murder.

        1. Johnny

          There was a gay on here from northern iron had this weird sexual almost obsession with disabled people – there is even a term for it…strange similarities with your posts wha….

          1. Johnny

            Here ya go “Mary” from the north,that old hate filled ignorant queen also used post horrendous overly sexual stuff about disabled people and kneecapping…there is help out there…

            ‘Abasiophilia is a psychosexual attraction to people with impaired mobility, especially those who use orthopaedic appliances such as leg braces, orthopedic casts, or wheelchairs’


    2. brughahaha

      “Sinn Fein do get a hard time but it is their own fault to be fair.”

      Indeed , anyone who threatens the 90 year old gombeen , class ridden , corrupt , nepotistic , vested interest Government that we are used to MUST expect expect a hard time from the media guard dogs eh?

      It really is a toss up as to which of the 3 , Journalists/(Status Quo Mouthpieces) , Legal Profession , or Neanderthal FFG party gobshites which hold Irish society back most.

  7. Rob_G

    What this article seems to ignore is that MLM had already expressed enthusiasm at the idea of joining in in the IRA’s campaign of murder and mayhem in a previous article; of course McInerney was correct in asking her about this, any journalist would have been remiss in not having done so.

        1. Mary_K

          “Mary Lou McDonald tells our sister publication, the Sunday Independent, that there was “every chance, every possibility” she would have joined the IRA.”
          The Belfast Telegraph didn’t ask her the question first, they are referencing the Sunday Independent article.

          1. Rob_G

            I’m not really sure what relevance that has, buy I think they are both owned by the same publisher

        2. GiggidyGoo

          Yes, quote a quote from an interview. Now ask yourself – did she in fact join the IRA? Read the full article to take the context of the question and the answer.
          E.g. When I was in my teens, there was every chance, every possibility that I would work for the ESB having been offered the job, but I didn’t take it. So, am I part of the ESB now?

          1. Cian

            I don’t know. Are you part of the ESB? There is a chance you are, in fact a good chance considering you were offered a job. And you hang out with other people from the ESB. And you admire the ESB.

            Is it weird if you refuse to answer if you are in the ESB or not?

        3. darren

          a bit behind the paywall i know.. but ‘expressed enthusiasm at the idea of joining in’ and “every chance, every possibility” are not the same … There is no expression of enthusiasm in saying that in a different and certainly more divisive time, that such sources of division and difficulty would likely shape experience and actions. But that’s obvious

  8. class wario

    I looked at the last day and there was a busy thread from some looper about how RTÉ were too biased in favour of Sinn Fein. And most agreed!

  9. Kate

    I agree RTE are a disgrace . FF hypocrites are never asked about arms brought in from Libya by Charlie Haughey. FG masters of spin.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Sshhhhh. FF aren’t the Republican Party anymore since Michilin and the boys took over.

  10. paul

    I wouldn’t mind the IRA queries if other politicians would be equally grilled about their own dodgy business like insurance scams (Alan Farrell), letter of support written for dodgy causes (Michael Noonan), issuing threats to private individuals (Regina Doherty), connections to corruption (… loads) etc.

    1. b

      sorry Paul, the whataboutery gig has already been taken for this thread. Thanks for your application.

      1. paul

        some politicians get a free pass on RTE. Everyone should get grilled, a little bit of fear.

  11. Jake38

    Whats the problem with having contempt for Sinn Fein? As for their “credibility or reputation”, that is a joke.

    1. Gringo

      The war is over. Get over it. People still die needlessly in this statelet while on waiting lists for medical treatment,not to mention the hundreds of people who died recently in nursing homes. Deal with that or shut the fupp up.

        1. Johnny

          If anyone sees this chap please call the FBI he’s wanted for questioning, god save the children…wall to wall over here, who in their right mind who want be ‘ruled’ by these alleged sexual predators who refuse cooperate with legitimate inquiries and questions…instead cooperating they are deliberately blocking justice for these victims,justice delayed is….

          “Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation,” Berman said, adding that his office is “considering its options.”

          1. Rob_G

            … ok, great, thanks for the info. If Andew Windsor were running for Taoisaeach, I’m sure Sarah McInerney would ask him about that, too.

          2. Johnny

            Oh right its only ‘some’ children that you care about, like from the late 80’s, the ones that are useful for scoring cheap political points.

            Rather glib dismissal for someone so concerned about the ‘children’ do these children not have rights too-or is their suffering of no use to you ?

          3. Rob_G

            Why are you bringing up the crimes of a foreign monarch? He isn’t running for election in Ireland, he doesn’t make excuses for murdering people – MLM is, and does, and that’s why RTÉ interview her about it

            Thought I have to say that using the victims of an abuser for political point-scoring is pretty low Johnny, even for you.

          4. Johnny

            Its on the main page of all the networks here-is RTE not running the story ?

            Front page ABC/NBC- TODAY in real time like NOW not 1980.. but yeah lets discuss the 1980’s…


          5. Rob_G

            Whatever it takes to deflect difficult questions to Mary Lou, Johnny – good man, well done.

          6. Johnny

            Not at all Rob,lets revisit the early 1980’s every day, while completely ignoring that RTE is NOT covering a story involving the ruler of Norther Ireland and her possiblly criminally involved son who’s refusing answer the FBI’s basic questions that just happens to be dominating the news cycle here today at the moment…involving children…

            But getting back to 1980…

          7. Ghost of Yep

            “Thought I have to say that using the victims of an abuser for political point-scoring is pretty low Johnny”

            Maria Cahill

          8. Rob_G

            @ YEP

            – imagine trying to twist that the people who stood by the victim are somehow worse than the people that covered up for the rapist…

          1. Rob_G

            I have no idea; I would have as little interest in attending such an event as I would one commemorating some IRA bankrobbers, tbh.

    2. Ben Madigan

      In all fairness the bar set for credibility and reputation of Irish political parties is pretty low – in the past 30 years under various FF/FG/coalition governments we have had:
      The Beef Tribunal
      The McCracken Tribunal
      The Moriarty Tribunal
      The Mahon Tribunal
      The Morris Tribunal
      The Disclosures Tribunal

  12. Dekkard

    The price of the peace process in the 90/00s was a blind eye to the RA and some of SFs positions. Was easier for many to take. What was never challenged was for many Shinners, especially the Shinner internet thought police, take that the RA bore no responsibility for the Troubles, that the whole thing could be boiled down to Brits/Collusion and Free State West Brits. That’s seen a younger generation indoctrinated to this.

    So it’s a post truth argument, arguably SF have never dealt with the RA’s actions & legacy and are quite comfortable that a section of society agree with their take on history. For many the number of republican victims, countless atrocities and the viciousness of the campaign means this sticks in their craw endlessly now that they have a mandate to govern.

    1. Cian

      I agree with what you have written – but it isn’t exclusive to SF and IRA – it would also extend it to the other NI parties & their armed wings (UUP, DUP, UVF, UDA).

    2. brughahaha

      Ha Ha

      They couldn’t give a crap about the victims of Northern Ireland. Its all fuelled by their terror of an actual alternative to the corrupt gombeen duopoly FF and FG have had for 80 years , and hysteria at the thought of, and end to, those parties golden circles.

      The Irish media ignored the abuse in the Church and Sate Institutions , numerous financial abuses in the State , still ignore the corruption of the State ,routinely turn a blind eye to Garda behaviour etc etc

      Yet suddenly they are digging up selective atrocities from 30 years ago …as soon as the cosy duopoly is threatened.

      It really is a joy to watch the absolute fear hysteria and terror of the Establishment since the shock election result.

  13. Johnny

    A small example-ABC/NBC/CNN/Fox etc since yesterday have all carried story after story about Prince Andrews non cooperation with ongoing investigations….RTE ?

    late this afternoon a strong denial issued by the prince appears on its website -bias what bias did MaryLou say she may have joined if….

    Its also factually incorrect but that never stops RTE..

    “Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered,” the statement said”

    Its not the DOJ its the NY prosectors office,facts such a pesky annoying thing..

    1. Johnny

      ……and now the statement by DOJ-NO RTE NO NO-its the NY office not Barr !

      Monday, June 8, 2020
      Statement Of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman Responding To Statement Issued Today By Law Firm Representing Prince Andrew

      “Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offenses committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the Prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally – through the very same counsel who issued today’s release – that he would not come in for such an interview. If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open, and we await word of when we should expect him.”

  14. Henry Porter

    How heartwarming to read such an unbiased article and refreshingly so as the article is apparently not about Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein or the IRA. It was particularly devious of Sarah McInerney to ask whether killing people was justified.

  15. Niall

    Sinn Fein is a legitimate political party?
    That just happens to try and censor cartoonists who take the piss out of them

    “The artist involved has been involved in some controversial cartoons, namely about our party as well,” Beattie said.

    “So we will be opposing it and, whether we are successful or not, the cartoonist will not have permission to draw me or, I’m sure, any of my colleagues.”éin-and-the-cartoonist-it-tried-to-block-1.3766930?mode=amp

    1. GiggidyGoo

      So you consider a cartoon (cartoon now mind) that was critical of a party, and which related to Kingsmill, which (as cartoons tend to do) are done to make humour, as taking the piss out of that party. He is as bad as the SF guy who put the Kingsmill loaf on his head.

      But anyway, how does your story support the view that SF are not a legitimate party?

      1. Niall

        Because legitimate political parties generally don’t try to censor cartoonists for having a pop at them. It betrays an intolerance of (mild) criticism that is not compatible with democratic norms. It’s like something that Trump and Putin would do.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Well, if they’re not a legitimate party, why are they in the Dail and in the Assembly?

  16. Shamus

    Can I ask the question to those who comment negatively of Mary Lou’s response.. Would you have joined the IRA if every house on your street, road or avenue was burned to the ground by Loyalists mobs with the help of your police force and with the army looking on.. . And if for weeks the locals were daubing ‘I Ran Away’ on walls in reference to the IRA not defending them.. Would you?

    1. Cian

      Did it happen on any road street or avenue that all houses, bar one, were burned to the ground?

      1. Shamus

        So it’s depending on how many were burned then. Have a look at Bombay St and tell me how many survived.. Would you or would you not have joined.. Simple answer.. Yes or No..

        1. Cian

          Honestly I don’t know. I think not (based on an upbringing in Dublin), but unless I was there I can’t be sure. Gerry Adams didn’t – so why would anyone else?

          Your turn: if you were there in 1973 would you have got involved with and signed the Sunningdale Agreement?

    2. Rob_G

      The flip side of that is that if you were from the Shankill road and had seen the IRA murder friends and family of yours, would you be justified in joining the Shankill Butchers and murdering some innocent people yourself to even things out – the answer (for me, at least) is and emphatic ‘no’.

      Anyway, Mary Lou didn’t experience any of the things you’ve just described; she is from Churchtown.

      1. Shamus

        Exactly Mary Lou wasn’t there so why ask the stupid question in the first place.. Yes I suppose I could have joined the UFF but would I have accepted names and addresses from British Intelligence to shoot innocent Catholics.. No I would defintely have not. So we weren’t there so it’s all pie in the sky shit, rolled out nauseatingly for only one reason to dicretid your political opponent and this Island in a Peace Process.. Absolutely disgraceful and wreckless..

    1. bisted

      …Charlie ‘friend of israel’ Flanagan seems to be trying to purge the memory of the oul fella…anyone wishing to understand the true meaning of rabid anti-semetism should listen to Oliver J’s inaugural speech to the Dail…

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