Anthony Sheridan: Collusion


From top: Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald (left) and Louise O Reilly TD: Anthony Sheridan

In an interview with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on RTEs This Week programme, David McCullagh quizzed her about the use of the word ‘collusion’ in the Dail during nominations for a new Taoiseach.

“You said the Government parties colluded in frustrating the voice of change, in what way was it collusion?”

McDonald confirmed her belief that there was collusion between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael but she didn’t get much further before being interrupted by McCullah who declared triumphantly that he had looked up the word in the Oxford English dictionary.

Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.

This type of ‘journalism’ is bizarre and disturbing.  McCullagh/RTÉ picked out one word, from one person in one political party and went to the bother of researching the exact meaning of that word with the obvious intention of embarrassing the leader of that party.

McDonald made the reasonable and correct argument that the word ‘collusion’ has a far wider application in the English language.

But McCullagh was determined in his attack:

Some people would see the use of the word as almost Trumpian.”

McDonald, rightly, berated him:

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

The grilling was continued the next day on Today with Sarah McInerney.

Speaking with Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly McInerney demanded to know why McDonald had used the ‘collusion ‘ word.

As with Mary Lou McDonald, O’Reilly didn’t get far in her reply before being interrupted by McInerney who expressed her personal opinion that the word was used deliberately by Sinn Féin.

“The use of the word and this impression being given, deliberately, I think by Sinn Féin that the two parties were plotting.

O’Reilly, stating the obvious fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael did work together to keep Sinn Féin out was again interrupted by McInerney in her eagerness to support the establishment parties.

“How do you know that, I mean they would say they came together because their party policies were more aligned than they were with yours.”

As McDonald said, the word ‘collusion’ has a broad application in language but if we take McCullagh’s strict definition and apply it to his and McInerney’s behaviour we can see that the definition fits perfectly.

Any objective observer could be forgiven for concluding that this was a [non] story generated behind closed doors with the apparent intention of letting listeners believe that Mary Lou McDonald had done something wrong.

This is not journalism, it’s not professional reporting or analysis. It appears to be the deliberate targeting of a political party that poses a challenge to the fading power of the ruling political class.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at  Public Enquiry.

Did RTÉ journalists collude against Sinn Fein? (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

Previously: Eamonn Kelly: Sleepily Comfortable And Casually Condescending


91 thoughts on “Anthony Sheridan: Collusion

  1. george

    I heard this interview. David McCullagh did not come across as impartial and lost his temper.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      McCullagh ‘s definition of the word “”colluded” then fits in with Sarah McInerney trying the same approach and word on the following morning.
      They’re some yokes alright. Are they journalists?

  2. ReproBertie

    Given the word collusion is most commonly used in Ireland to describe the cooperation of British authorities and Loyalist murder squads, does Anthony really not think there’s any loading of the word when it’s used by SF in this manner? We all know how carefully they tip toe around language in politics in Northern Ireland so it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t used, rather than other words, almost as a dog whistle to an element of their support.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      McCullagh quoted The Oxford English Dictionary. In his rush to try do as you’re also trying to so, his quotation of the definition actually negated his argument. The word was used correctly.

      1. ReproBertie

        I’m pointing out that the word “collusion” has a certain history in modern day Irish politics, a history SF are well aware of. In pointing this out I’m suggesting that it was chosen intentionally and questioning the naivety of Anthony thinking that it wasn’t chosen intentionally.

        Despite what you chose to believe, this has nothing to do with my political leanings. I hold FF, FG and SF in equal contempt.

      2. GiggidyGoo

        No point is relating it to Irish politics or history when McCullagh relied on the Oxford English Dictionary definition to try score a point.

        MLMcD use the word correctly, and in keeping with the definition that McCullagh himself produced.

        McCullagh has once again showed himself up to be a lightweight, with an agenda. It’s backfired again on him.

        1. ReproBertie

          “MLMcD use the word correctly, and in keeping with the definition that McCullagh himself produced.”

          Again again, only if you can provide proof that FF and FG engaged in a secret pre-election pact to form a coalition but not to tell the voters of this plan. You have yet to provide anything beyond your own heavily biased suspicions.

  3. Friscondo

    In fairness. Collusion is very loaded word to use in an Irish context. I was certainly taken aback by her use of that particular word.

  4. Harry Robertson

    She could have easily used a different word (negotiated for example), ‘FF, FG and greens negotiated a government’ or if you prefer ‘collaborated a government that would exclude SF’ but
    that wouldn’t suit Mary Lou’s agenda or her call to her base that nefarious reasons kept SF out of government.

    Not the fact that she wanted the exact same thing, ie to keep FF and FG out of government but she failed and couldn’t get enough partners to carry out her PfG

    Would love to see the statistics of how many times this will be repeated on SM by SF supporting accounts in relation to this.

    1. Rob_G

      I thought it was such a sneaky, sleeveen phrasing – if SF had have managed to get a coalition of the willing to form a government, would that have counted as “colluding” to keep FF or FG out of power?

      1. GiggidyGoo

        The collusion occurred when FF said that they wouldn’t go into Government with FG, and FG said that they wouldn’t go into government with FF.
        It was a secret conspiracy to deceive the electorate. Collusion in other words.

        1. ReproBertie

          No, that won’t work. In order for it to be a secret conspiracy to deceive the electorate FF and FG would have had to agree to go into government with each other before the election campaign.

          1. ReproBertie

            Are you now claiming that FF and FG had agreed to go into government together before the election?

          2. Rob_G

            Daft – Michael Martin almost had a leadership contest because of it, but of course it all part of a grand conspiracy that only Giggigy is clever enough to figure it out.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          So you have heard them then. Gas the way you jump on the RTE/FF/FG bandwagon and go gung-ho in attempts to ‘prove’ something that those three contrived to make into something, yet when FG (and RTE and FF just as easily) can be called out, off you go into defensive mode.

          Fact is that McCullagh made quite an idiot of himself, and relative newbie McInerney bit his hook, and did the same to herself.

          1. ReproBertie

            Wow. Persecution complex much?

            How about you deal with the topic at hand instead of dancing your usual whataboutery dance to distract?

        2. GiggidyGoo

          The point of course, is that FG or FF never are asked the same type of question by RTE about their terminology/turn of phrase towards SF. No whataboutery – just keeping you focused on what’s really at play.

          1. ReproBertie

            The whataboutery is you dragging Leo’s Dáil behaviour into a conversation about whether RTÉ were right to bring up SF’s use of the clearly loaded word “collusion” or not.

          2. GiggidyGoo

            No Repro – I gave an example of Varadkar’s penchant for far worse in the Dail which is never brought up by RTE in interviews.

            MLMcD’s word was used in the Dail was it not? No whataboutery especially since MLMcD’s use of the word was correct.

          3. ReproBertie

            “I gave an example of Varadkar’s penchant for far worse in the Dail which is never brought up by RTE in interviews.”

            That’s exactly what I’m saying. You went full whataboutery.

          4. realPolithicks

            RTE has a long and clear history of bias in its coverage and interviewing of SF, whatever you’re feelings about SF this fact can’t be denied.

          5. GiggidyGoo

            Eh Repro?. Valid comparisons – Statements in the Dail / RTE Interviews. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander normally, but not in the FFG/RTE stakes.

          6. ReproBertie

            Valid comparison to what? Anthony’s complaint is that RTÉ journalists had a go at MLMcD for using the word collusion to describe the negotiations around the PfG and you’re throwing in some irrelevant nonsense about how Leo speaks in the Dáíl.

          7. GiggidyGoo

            The point, even if I have to make it ad nauseam to you, is that RTE do have a go at SF quoting what they have said in the Dail, yet don’t have a go at FFG over what they have said in the Dail. Anthony has highlighted (a number of times) that it’s the treatment that is given to SF is different than that given to FFG.
            In this instance it’s the take-up of the word collusion that McCullagh tries to twist to an anti-SF advantage, and he’s been called out on it.
            The relevance in my posts is that the same treatment isn’t given to FFG in similar situations (words said in the Dail).
            If you think that the article above is just about a word, work away.

    2. MaryLou's ArmaLite

      Shinners don’t like it up em.

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

      1. Johnny

        -question out of curiosity is your ‘plan’ to provide a daily reminder,may get a tad repetitive as the election is quite a bit off, but carry on…

        1. Johnny

          -ever day is a school day Mary-as your kindergarten level questions went unanswered.

          if you invest 100,000 in Ireland no tax on it or any loss.
          if you make 10% or 10 grand on your investment that 10 is taxed never the 100.

          I’m just here help as the education system appears to have let you down badly,just right size those numbers for yourself Mary…..

          1. Johnny

            Hows FF’s new Del Boy doing, out driving his taxi on the mean streets of Limerick or taking care some his other numerous side hustles.

          2. Ghost of Yep

            Do you have anything to back up these Insinuations johnny?

            If you don’t, you should really be quiet.

          3. Johnny

            …steady on there i thought i heard him say ..I can’t believe it..about his miraculous journey from collecting tips on limericks mean streets hustling and driving a cab, to an election away from running one Irelands biggest most important cities.

            …he’s not the only one who can’t..

            -full disclosure his myriad financial holdings so he can step out the room.

      2. GiggidyGoo

        FF = FG = DUP = UDA. Remember, a vote for FF or FG is a vote for the UDA. Collusion at its finest.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            You remember the old formula? If A=B and B=C then A=C. Well add a ‘=D’ in there.

            FF = FG (Two cheeks, and now cheeky buddies in Government)
            FG = DUP (Jeffrey Donaldson addressing FG Ard-Fheis, Coveney addressing DUP Conference)
            DUP=UDA – The DUP have to consult with their UDA wing. Brexit for instance


          2. Cian

            By that reasoning SF = DUP (cheeky buddies in NI’s “Government”) and DUP = UDA therefore SF = UDA

            So a vote for Sinn Fein is a vote for both IRA and UDA.


          3. GiggidyGoo

            Tsk Tsk Cian. There is no Government in Northern Ireland. It’s an assembly. The North is governed by Westminster. Yet you always try that old lemon, you’re always corrected on it so why persist?

  5. Pat O'Kelly

    The Dail having been elected by the people in Febuary finally elected a Taoiseach and government last Saturday.
    Sinn Fein and indeed others do like this but that does not alter the fact that due process as laid down in Bunreacht na hEireann was followed.

    1. Johnnythree

      Eh, the article is about interview techniques used by our publicly funded broadcaster. We didn’t need the reminder as to the process in which a Govt was arrived at. Thanks tho.

      1. Pat O'Kelly

        Mary Lou was taken to task for suggesting that the government was formed following collusion by the 3 parties.
        The 3 parties negotiated the programme which was ratified by the Dail.
        To describe political negotiation as collusion is factually incorrect but as I said some people clearly are unhappy with the outcome of the Dail proceedings last weekend and wish to promote deception that the Government we have was formed by underhand and inappropriate means.
        SF did exceptionally well in the election in terms of increase in their vote and TDs and so were one of the “winners” in the election but nonetheless did not “win” the election. But they have not been “excluded” from Government by collusion but rather by an insufficient number of TDs.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          The definition that McCullagh used is what’s being called out. Additionally, MLMcD mentioned two parties, not three. FG and FF.
          The collusion refers to (as far as I read it) a Secret cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others which was to do with FF saying they wouldn’t go into Government with FG, and vice-versa.
          Now if, during the run up to the election, Martin said FF would to go into Government with FG, and Varadkar said FG would go into government with FF, do you think that they would have polled as much as they did? My answer would be ‘no’. What they engaged in was a Secret cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others (The others being the electorate)

          1. ReproBertie

            “FF saying they wouldn’t go into Government with FG, and vice-versa.”

            Again, it’s only a conspiracy to deceive the electorate if they secretly agreed to go in to government together before the election which is something you are claiming to believe but you have no actual evidence that this happened.

          2. Cian

            All leaders were asked, on RTE leader’s debate in January, about potential partners for coalition.

            FG were the only party that said they wouldn’t go into a coalition (explicitly excluding SF). All other leaders said they were open to any partnerships.

          3. GiggidyGoo

            The evidence is right before your eyes. Have a look at the videos of both of Martin and Varadkar, vehement in their denial of their going into cahoots together, and where are they now? In cahoots. It was a secret because they didn’t let the electorate know their plans. (Buy sure, what to you expect from the both of them living together for the past 4+ years? – Marriage. They are not ‘they’ anymore. Just waiting on the re-branding)

          4. ReproBertie

            No, a coalition government formed following a long drawn out negotiation over a PfG necessitated by no one party emerging from the election with a clear majority is not evidence of a secret pre-election pact. You need to do better.

          5. GiggidyGoo

            Good man Cian. However I’ll see your ‘Wrong’ and raise you a ‘Correct’
            But just to clarify – we are talking about FF and FG collusion as MLMcD has accused them of.
            As you’ve just written, FG said they wouldn’t go into coalition with FF on an RTE program.
            Michilin said categorically when asked by people of the electorate if he would do so, said that FF wouldn’t go into government with FG.
            Whether it’s said on an RTE program, or on a video while canvassing doesn’t matter a jot.

          6. Harry Robertson

            It’s not the definition that’s been called out. Anthony is calling out McCullogh, Mcinerney and the public service media… lets stay on point.

          7. Cian

            Wrong (again). I said FG wouldn’t go into government with SF.

            The article you linked to agrees”“if the numbers fall a certain way and the only way to form a stable government is for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to cooperate in coming together, I think that’s the responsible thing to do for the country,” [Varadkar] said.”

  6. bisted

    …wasn’t it Einstein who said that the measure of insanity was to do the same thing over and over but expect different results…heh x 3…

  7. Johnny

    Great piece Anthony,really enjoying it ever week,did not catch the show so really other than for Murdering Mary,can’t comment.

  8. Brian

    Anthony Sheridan is, based on his previous articles, clearly a fan of Sinn Féin. There is nothing wrong with that but journalists asking questions of Sinn Féin (like it does every party leader) does not make them biased. Thankfully Mary-Lou has people like Anthony to call out attempts to “embarrass” her on national radio.
    If Sinn Féin want to be sure of getting into government then they simply have to win more seats. Alternatively if Sinn Féin feel that the British first-past-the-post system would suit it better then it is free to campaign for such a change.
    Words are important, especially in the current political and social context, journalists have a right to question politicians on their use of language. I would agree with Bertie that using the word “collusion” dilutes its use in the context of collusion between elements of the British state and terrorist groups. “Collusion” certainly gives the impression of illicit wrongdoing if not outright illegality – I am not sure of “far wider” uses of the word.

    1. ReproBertie

      When it comes to interviewing politicians too many journalists seem to be rooting for a “Gotcha!” as their priority. This is not a technique that serves the public who want information rather than point scoring.

      1. Scundered

        The public knows that fact finding journalism is best, however they still buy the dramatic headlines, it sells better hence here we are stuck in a world of high drama polar politics. I can’t see that reversing anytime soon, it’s all gone a bit Jeremy Kyle.

    2. GiggidyGoo

      McCullagh quoted the Oxford English Dictionary. To quote that definition in order to pull up SF proved his infatuation (if that’s what it is) with FFG and a rush to be top of the class, but also was his defeat in his foray with MLMcD. Piddle poor excuse of a journalist if the truth be told.

      ‘Sworn enemy’ Political parties in history have colluded to try destroy other political parties by the way – it’s nothing new. In Charger’s country, 1924, The Labour Party colluded with the Conservatives to engineer it’s own defeat in order to weaken/destroy the Liberals. They were quite prepared to be ousted ‘temporarily’ from office in order to achieve that.

    3. Pat O'Kelly

      Beware first past the post!!!
      In the UK in 2017 T May won 317 seats with 13.6m votes
      In 2019 B Johnson won 365 seats with 13.9m votes, that’s 48 more seats from a mere 300k votes or to view it differently less than 1%of an increase in vote delivered a “landslide” victory from a minority government.
      Or PR system of STV is the most democratic in my opinion anyway.

  9. realPolithicks

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people on this website who are apparently shocked by the use of the word collusion….ffs!

  10. RuilleBuille

    It’s RTE – what does anyone expect.

    McInenery was a brilliant interviewer on Newstalk and a few weeks in RTE and she has become this anti-SF shrill. Clearly this is RTE collusion with the establishment parties.

    1. Harry Robertson

      Yep, that’s it… from brilliant interviewer to PS broadcaster shill in a flash.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Very simplistic there Harry. I thought there was a long peace process before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Were the signatories terrorists when they signed it?

          1. Harry Robertson

            What like the secret negotiations? Even tho both sides said there wasn’t at the time, but let the killing continue?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            Why the name-change ‘Harry’? Easily knowing what type of a person is posting.

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