From top: Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave and Village magazine on stage in Lisbon, Portugal last week; Vanessa Foran
Ten days ago, the clocks went back, and sadly so did we.
Our more mainstreamed media decided that this year’s dawning into the darkest meanest months in our year should be just that, dark and mean, when they intentionally coloured in our local news feeds with begrudging, miserly and cynically short-tempered content that got triggered by, what is to all intents and purposes, a work conference, that took place in Lisbon.
This was no bet you wish you were here wind-up for the lads back home; the Village presentation was professionally organised to be loud and staged to be provocative, yet well-spoken and resourced with determined clarity.
Paddy Cosgrave’s Web Summit 2021 curtain raiser plumed so densely over the usual suspect ranks of the elite media that they couldn’t rely on their own wits to get through it.
Even the more established household names didn’t manage any sensible reaction to what emerged on that conference stage.
It was desperate. I could understand if they were all taken by surprise and the content of that opening segment contained a newsflash, but the premise was a very public story that was already 12 months old.
All the parts and players are by now, known by name. It is a story that trended steadily throughout the last twelve months. These usual suspects with familiar faces and voices don’t live in caves.
Even so, in the days that followed Paddy’s giant “yellow slide” there was still no coming to terms or accepting the established facts of the story we all know every corner of. The weekend press delivered simple hit pieces underneath colourful portraits of the man in their ire. I will say this, Paddy Cosgrave takes a nice picture.
It remains impossible to determine whether any of the journalists and professional commenters, and their online followers and endorsers, and especially their sources – for all sorts of leaks and titbits, have ever actually come to terms with the story that formed that centre piece.
And it has been made all but impossible by their own making; by having too much to say about what a company CEO has to say at a work conference taking place in another country.
I get that Paddy Cosgrave is mouthy and is the type of success story that winds up most people, particularly certain Irish people. I get that pissing off the entire Campaign-for-Leo camp was always going to generate some scaldy reactions.
But what I am not prepared to get is why there has been a constructive boycott within the organised media classes to physically deny the substance of the story, and to ridicule those that made it public.
The story of Ireland now includes this story thanks to a whistle-blower. No matter who they are, it is a real-life retelling of an attempt to undermine an important public Health Care contract.
A story that told of law breaking by our then Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. A man who still retains a senior office today and leads one of the largest and embedded political parties in the Country. The same man that launched a public campaign asking for people to become whistle-blowers themselves and report Social Welfare fraud.
A story that got distracted with unseemly and silly schoolboy exchanges, nonetheless it was still a story that told of confidential information privy only to our Cabinet Ministers and Senior Department officials being carelessly circulated to people not entitled to it. A story that proved a feckless and callous attitude to probity within the very highest executive in our Republic, our Department of An Taoiseach and our Cabinet Ministers.
The facts forming this story have been established and proved and remain undisputed. That is all anyone needs to know. The character of the publisher and the storytellers does not deny one ounce of the story.
What I have established from the many that give their occupation as journalist, and the wider mainstream professional commentariat over the last week tells me that they are the menace our democracy is faced with, not crappy Politicians.
It simply cannot be denied that a very dominant cohort have set about to undermine, and mock those who had the conviction that this story was important for the Irish people to know.
The motives of those that brought it into the public domain is so far down the scale of neither-here-nor-there that no credentialed journalist with press gallery access to any level of our Oireachtas should even refer to it.
To do so publicly at least, is an attempt to obscure the full and real story with their own version, and therefore potentially alter and interfere with the straight up truth. That is PR not journalism.
That is a very dangerous position for anyone to support. I don’t care how big your following is, or impressive your employer is, or how many books you have sold or how often you appear on an RTÉ platform. You are a hazard to truth, integrity, transparency and therefore – accountability, which denies Justice.
Vanessa can be followed on twitter @akaFrillyKeane