Author Archives: Anthony Sheridan

From top: Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein TD Louise O Reilly; Anthony Sheridan

I have submitted the following complaint to RTÉ regarding the broadcaster’s disgraceful and disturbing bias against Sinn Féin.

To Whom It May Concern:

Please find complaint submitted for breach of Section 39 [1] [a], [b] of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Substance of complaint:  RTÉ News and Current Affairs is heavily biased against Sinn Fein.

This bias takes several forms, for example:

Stacked discussion panels where Sinn Fein representatives/supporters are ambushed not just by opponents of Sinn Fein, but invariably, by RTE presenters.

The creation of fake news stories which generate a damaging impression of Sinn Fein.

Minimising or completely ignoring stories that favour Sinn Fein, for example, good poll ratings.

Giving precedence to those opposed to [and fearful of] Sinn Fein’s electoral success particularly the centre parties in the republic and unionism in the North.

The following is an example of the creation of a fake news story that was then used to ambush Sinn Féin representatives.

During an interview with the Irish Examiner [5 Jan 2022] Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald expressed the following view regarding reform within the civil service:

“There is immense talent in our civil service, our public service, and our public administration, that’s the first thing that needs to be said.  But we have, in many respects, a system that is constipated, a system that is slow, and a system that needs to be jolted into more efficient actions.”

This is a perfectly legitimate and reasonable comment for a politician to make. Nobody can seriously deny that the civil service is in need of radical reform.  It is in no way a major story that would warrant further coverage and comment from a national broadcaster such as RTÉ.   

But somebody of authority within RTÉ, ignoring the positive elements of the comment,  made a decision to select one word, ‘constipation’, and weaponise it to cast Sinn Féin in a bad light – For example:

Today with Claire Byrne [7 Jan] – Ms. Byrne upbraided Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly for the potential offence caused by use of the word. She [Byrne] then invited the [stacked] panel for their opinion, all of which, predictably, condemned Sinn Féin.

News at One [10 Jan] Bryan Dobson, ignoring Ms. McDonald’s reasonable account, repeatedly badgered her with the question – Do you stand over those remarks?

My specific complaint against RTE is as follows:

On Friday May 20 last,  An Taoiseach Michael Martin travelled to Belfast for talks with all political parties concerning the crisis surrounding the refusal of the Democratic Unionist Party [DUP] to partake in the newly elected Assembly.

The dramatic result of the election saw Sinn Fein become the largest party in the North, a truly historic moment in the history of the province.  The Sinn Fein victory was, at least partly, the reason the DUP refused to participate in the new assembly leading to the crisis that saw An Taoiseach travel to Belfast.

Despite the central and important role played by Sinn Fein in these developments, somebody of authority in RTE decided to severely restrict the party’s access to the airwaves over the three days the story remained live.

Friday 20 May

Morning Ireland – RTÉ journalist interviewed by RTÉ journalist on the issue. No Sinn Fein [27 MLAs].

Today with Claire Byrne – No Sinn Féin.

News at One – No Sinn Fein. The programme featured much analysis and opinion with An Taoiseach, Jeffery Donaldson of the DUP [25 MLAs] and Doug Beatty of the Ulster Unionist Party [UUP] [9 MLAs].

Drivetime – No Sinn Féin. Programme featured An Taoiseach, a journalist and an interview with the leader of the SDLP [8 MLAs]

Six One News – No Sinn Féin. Programme featured DUP leader Jeffery Donaldson and An Taoiseach

Nine News – Ditto for Six One News – No Sinn Féin

Saturday 21 May

Saturday with Philip Boucher-Hayes

DUP MLA Gregory Campbell facilitated with an 8 minute uninterrupted interview.

This was followed by a brief interchange with the panel which included SF TD Darren O’Rourke.

The last word was granted to Campbell in a two minute, uninterrupted, summing up of his party’s position.

Sunday 22 May

Brendan O’Connor Show – The issue completely ignored.

This Week – Extended interview with Bertie Ahern – No Sinn Féin

The Week in Politics – Relatively brief chat with panel of politicians including Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly.

It is reasonable to conclude from the facts outlined above that Sinn Fein was deliberately excluded particularly on Friday 20 May when the issue was the main news story of the day.

It is also reasonable to conclude that the exclusion of the party was not accidental or due to incompetence. Preparations for such programmes are carefully planned, meetings are held with presenters, producers and other decision makers.  Decisions are made about content, questions/issues to be explored and what person[s] parties should be included.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy


From top; President of Sinn Fein Mary Lou McDonald is suing RTÉ for defamation; Anthony Sheridan

On Monday 25 April last, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald, filed a writ against RTE in response to comments made by an RTE presenter on Morning Ireland.

This is a newsworthy story because it involves the leader of the Opposition and the national broadcaster but it is a single issue story – prominent politician sues national broadcaster.

But Irish Times political editor Pat Leahy did not report it as such.  Instead, he effectively created a fake news story around the core facts.

Without evidence, he strongly suggested that Sinn Féin was operating a policy of encouraging its members to pursue media outlets in the courts.  The trend is unmistakable, he writes.

Later, he went on to suggest, again without evidence, why Sinn Fein was operating such a policy.

Sinn Féin’s political opponents – and many people in the media – see all this as part of a strategy to muzzle criticism of the party by trying to generate a “chilling effect” to dissuade opponents and the media from robust criticism and investigation of the party, its members and its controversial history.

If so, it is a tactic often used by powerful people and institutions to discourage scrutiny.

The next day, this junk journalism was parroted in an Irish Examiner editorial. [owned by the Irish Times].  The anonymous author patronisingly suggested that perhaps it would be best if the electorate were informed of this ‘belligerency’ by Sinn Féin.

This kind of low grade journalism is now common throughout the establishment media particularly when it comes to Sinn Féin.  But what’s really disturbing in this instance is the response of the National Union of Journalists [NUJ], a response curiously appearing in the same edition of the Irish Times as Leahy’s hostile article.

The secretary of the NUJ, Seamus Dooley, took the same line as the Irish Times:

“Defamation proceedings can have a chilling impact on press freedom. It’s important that media organisations are not inhibited by libel threats, from whatever source and that editors and journalists continue to ask awkward questions.”

Here’s a few awkward question for Mr. Dooley:  Why is the NUJ questioning the right of any citizen to take legal action for alleged defamation?  Why does the NUJ think it appropriate to lecture any citizen on how they should proceed when the believe they have been defamed and, most worryingly, why is the NUJ supporting junk journalism that appears intent on damaging the reputation of a legitimate political party?

But the story becomes even more bizarre.

The Index of Censorship, a media freedom NGO based in London, filed a media freedom alert known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation [SLAPP] with the Council of Europe’s Safety of Journalists Platform, in response to Ms. McDonald’s legal action.

A SLAPP is, according to the Index of Censorship:

A strategy used by powerful actors in an attempt to stop individuals or organisations from expressing views on issues of public interest. Although they are disguised as ordinary civil claims, such as defamation or privacy, they are not intended to succeed in court.  Instead, their goal is to saddle critics with prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, and nerve- wracking  legal processes.  SLAPPS threaten not only freedom of expression and media freedom, but access to information, rule of law and our very democracy.

This is a very strong and, in my opinion, dangerous generalisation.  It suggests that those with power and wealth, who feel they have been defamed, should be treated differently under law, that they should not enjoy the universally accepted principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

And that, in effect, is what the Safety of Journalists Platform has done in response to Ms. McDonald’s action.

They have issued a formal alert notice with the heading:


Sinn Fein Leader Files SLAPP against RTE – No. 175.2022

Created 25 May 2022

Harassment and intimidation of journalists

Source of threat: Non-State

Level 2

This is untrue, McDonald did not file a SLAPP against RTÉ.  She has filed a writ against the broadcaster for alleged defamation – nothing else.

The alert, among other things, claims that McDonald’s legal action against RTÉ is a disguised strategy to attack the broadcaster and therefore poses a serious threat to media freedom, offline or online.

A Level 2 charge…

…covers all other serious threats to media freedom, including but not limited to physical assaults causing actual bodily harm, acts of intimidation and harassment; use by public figures of threatening or severely abusive language towards media members; unwarranted seizure or damage to property or equipment; laws and regulations that unduly restrict media freedom or access to information; actions that jeopardise the confidentiality of sources or the independence of the public sector broadcasters; abusive or disproportionate use of legislation; misuse of governmental or other powers to direct media content or to penalise media or journalists; interference with media freedom through ownership, control and regulation; and other acts posing a serious threat to media freedom, offline or online.

Here’s Jessica Ní Mhainín, policy and campaigns manager with Index on Censorship.

“We are alarmed at the legal action that has been filed against RTÉ by the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald as we believe the action is characteristic of a strategic lawsuit against public participation…

“…fundamentally they [SLAPPS] involve powerful people making legal threats or taking legal actions against public watchdogs – such as media outlets – in response to public interest speech that may be inconvenient to them or their interests.”

To my knowledge no evidence has been provided by The Index of Censorship, The Safety of Journalists Platform or the Council of Europe to back up the SLAPP charge.

I’m no legal expert but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Sinn Féin president is considering her options in response to this arrogant, self-righteous and, potentially, false charge.


Personal note: While writing and researching this article I couldn’t help noting the apparent interweaving between The Irish Times [and other Irish media], the NUJ, Index of Censorship and the Council of Europe. Could it be, I wondered, that all this feverish activity was somehow connected to the democratic challenge posed by Sinn Fein to the power of the ruling regime in Ireland?

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy


From top: Fergus Finlay, chief executive of Barnardo’s Ireland and a HSE Board member; Anthony Sheridan

HSE board member and Irish Examiner columnist Fergus Finlay is so strongly in favour of the current arrangement for building the National Maternity Hospital that he took the unusual step of breaking board confidentiality rules to support the Government’s plan for the project.

In a column last week he clearly stated where he stands on the issue, writing:

‘Here’s my bottom line. As a citizen, campaigner, and advocate; as a husband; as the father and grandfather of women and girls; there are simply no circumstances under which I would support the development of a new national maternity hospital in Ireland that was influenced by anything — anything — other than the public interest and the interests of women.’

He then went on to outline the enormous amount of work he and his colleagues on the audit and risk committee put into checking every aspect of the deal to ensure that nothing was left to chance. He stated:

‘We devoted many, many hours, over many months…examining and analysing the huge set of documents that had been developed to give legal underpinning to the project. We worked with senior management colleagues and had the benefit of legal advice at every stage.’

Given all that, it would be reasonable to assume that Mr. Finlay is familiar with all aspects of the project and would have no difficulty in answering questions put by those who are deeply concerned about the entire project.

Such an assumption would be badly mistaken.

During a discussion on RTÉ Radio with Prof. Louise Kenny, who has serious question on the issue, Finlay was unable to answer even the most basic questions.

For example: Why is St. Vincent’s so determined to hold on to ownership of the site?

Finlay replied:

“Well, you would need to ask them that but I would hazard a guess: I think they see it as a great act of generosity and they don’t understand why they should be asked to go further. The rest of the world would like them to gift the land to the state, but they haven’t.”

St. Vincent’s have claimed that ownership of the land is required in order to facilitate integrated care.

Prof. Kenny refutes this. It doesn’t stack up, she said. There are many hospitals across the UK and Europe where the leasehold has no effect whatsoever on care integration.

Incredibly, Finlay agreed, contradicting his core claim that everything has been checked, that months of forensic investigation with the best legal minds has answered all the questions:

“I think you can work out arrangements for integrated care without owning the land…I don’t think that’s a good reason. My hunch is that it’s about tradition, it’s about history, it’s about pride in their own ownership.”

So here we have a member of the HSE board, the authority that will decide whether the project proceeds or not, guessing and expressing hunches surrounding the most fundamental questions being asked by those who are deeply worried about the consequences if the project is allowed to proceed in its present form.

Finlay was equally befuddled when asked about the worrying inclusion of the term ‘clinically appropriate’ in the contract. Kenny said the term was incredibly vague and open to interpretation. It could mean a doctor having the power to override the wishes of a woman seeking a particular service.

He said:

“I think that phrase has been misinterpreted and I wish to god we could find a better phrase that wouldn’t be open to misinterpretation.”

When asked if lawyers should come up with a better phrase Finlay did a lot of muttering before lamely concluding with the by now standard excuse of those defending the project – it would involve further delay.

In addition to his ignorance of the facts Finlay’s attitude was also patronising and insulting, not just to Prof. Kenny but to all those who have genuine worries about the Byzantine conditions surrounding this project.

Effectively accusing Prof. Kenny of being a conspiracist, he asked:

“Is it that you really believe that somewhere in the background there’s someone waiting to leap out and say ‘we gotcha now‘?”

Clearly Finlay is either unaware of or unconcerned about a number of clauses in the contract. For example, the strong possibility that the apparent generous €10 per annum rent could mushroom into an astonishing €850,000 per annum if certain conditions are not adhered to.

Given the shady and convoluted shenanigans surrounding this whole deal, only the most naïve would believe that it will not eventually turn into a very, very expensive ‘gotcha’ trap for Irish taxpayers.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy


Earlier: Boylan Point

From top: Supporters of dissident republican group Saoradh gather in Derry for a parade last Easter Monday in the city; Anthony Sheridan

Hardly a week passes without a sermon from one mainstream media source or another reminding people of the vital role the sector plays in presenting news and current affairs with honesty and integrity.

The Irish Examiner is particularly strident in warning of the dangers posed by non-mainstream news sources. This example from an editorial marking the first anniversary of Marian Finucane’s death in december 2020:.

‘…the need for good journalism have never been more important at a time when fake news and groundless clickbait continue to flood our social media channels.

In the year ahead, accurate news from trusted sources will continue to play a vital role in dispelling the corrosive force of misinformation.’

Unfortunately, for those who place their trust in the Irish Examiner, the ‘corrosive force of misinformation’ is often employed by the paper, particularly against those who pose a threat to the power of the ruling political establishment.

Just last week, the paper published what was, in effect, a fake news story, strongly suggesting that Sinn Féin was responsible for a violent parade by the dissident republican group Saoradh.

Despite the fact that Sinn Féin had nothing whatsoever to do with the parade, the Irish Examiner had no scruples about making a damaging link between the party and the organisers of the parade.

‘If Ms McDonald is serious about having companions on historic travels then Sinn Féin will have to address the law and order contradictions which allow extreme republicans to prematurely present an event which ended with petrol bombs and arrests as a “dignified parade” allied to a tone-deaf refusal to listen to a reasonable request from a family not to march on the anniversary of the murder of a young woman. A murder for which there has still to be a criminal conviction.’

This cheap and obvious attempt to blame Sinn Féin for the parade and subsequent violence was all the more reprehensible for falsely linking the party with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in 2019.

In a crude attempt to pretend the article was balanced, and not an attack on Sinn Féin, the anonymous author added:

‘Events such as masked parades incrementally take the shine off their [Sinn Fein’s] standing even where they are not seen to be the organisers.’

This manipulation of news stories by the Irish Examiner is not new. An even more odious example occurred just before the 2020 election. Context is vital in understanding this disgraceful example of so-called professional journalism.

Seven days before the election on 8 February an Irish/Times MRBI poll reflected a dramatic rise in support for Sinn Féin over Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

The development sent shock waves through the establishment media. Here, for example, is how the political editor of the Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell, began an article in response to the poll.

So, just what in the hell is going on?

Three days before the election, on WednesdayFebruary 5, there was an attack on the Glasnevin cemetery memorial wall. The monument commemorates those who died between the Easter Rising in 1916 and the end of the Civil War in 1923, including British soldiers killed in the conflict.

The vandals have never been identified but that did not stop the Irish Examiner from, effectively, blaming Sinn Féin for the attack.

‘It would be utterly wrong to link Sinn Féin to Wednesday night’s attack on Glasnevin cemetery’s memorial wall…

‘…However, it would be wrong too to pretend that strands of this election campaign, especially Sinn Féin’s online echo chambers, have not created an atmosphere if not encouraging such criminality then making it seem ordinary, almost praiseworthy.

In the lead up to this warping of a news story, the author wrote of:

‘The anger, poison and basic dishonesty associated with Sinn Fein supporters on social media.’

Reading this journalistic garbage I can see only one difference between the standards practiced at the Irish Examiner and the anonymous trolls on social media – The trolls don’t preach and pretend they operate from the high moral ground.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy


From top: Labour’s Ivana Bacik and  Alan Kelly outside Leinster House last month; Anthony Sheridan

Writing in the Irish Times recently about the continuing decline of the Labour Party, historian Diarmaid Ferriter asks:

Is there really much difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats and would it not make sense for them to coalesce?

The same question has been asked many times by journalists and politicians since the people effectively rejected the party in the 2016 election.  The question is always advanced as a possible strategy for rescuing Labour from extinction.

That mainstream journalists and politicians would scramble around looking for strategies to save the party is not surprising but it is disappointing to witness a prominent historian engaging in the same hopeless delusion when he really should know the answer.

So, for Mr. Ferriter’s benefit and other’s hoping that, by some miracle, the Labour Party can be saved – here’s the unvarnished truth.

The Labour Party is heading for extinction because it is, first and foremost, a loyal member of the ruling political class.  A large and increasing number of voters have come to realise that the party does not represent their interests and vote accordingly.  Election results do not lie, the brutal political reality is out there for everybody to see.

Also, in recent years, particularly since the economic catastrophe of 2008, more and more voters have come to realise that the political establishment itself is rotten to the core.

The people have delivered the same message in every recent election – a demand for radical political change.  Labour, instead of answering that call, has doggedly remained loyal to the corrupt political regime that the electorate is rejecting in their droves.

And this is where the difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats crystalises, this is what Mr. Ferriter should know.

The Social Democrats are anti-establishment, they were created as a direct result of political corruption within the establishment.  The party’s raison d’être is to rid the state of the disease of political corruption that has infected the body politic for decades.

If the Social Democrats was to merge with Labour they would almost certainly suffer the same fate as the Progressive Democrats.  They too came into existence in protest against political corruption, principally under the corrupt politician Haughey.  But over the years and particularly under the leadership of Mary Harney, the party returned to its rotten Fianna Fáil roots.  That betrayal of hope and trust signed the party’s death warrant.

In the run-up to the 1992 election Labour Party leader, Dick Spring convinced many, including myself, that the party was determined to represent the people rather than powerful interests.

I was particularly impressed when Spring, most unusually, revealed the truth about a fellow ruling elite party when he accurately described Haughey and Fianna Fáil’s influence on politics as ‘a cancer in the body politic’.

Shortly afterwards, Spring cravingly led Labour into coalition with the ‘cancerous’ Fianna Fáil exposing the naked truth that his true loyalties lay with the power and privileges of the ruling political class and not with the people.

Mr. Ferriter, in common with all mainstream commentators is unaware of or refuses to acknowledge the truth behind the rapidly changing political landscape.  Instead of facing reality, he clutches at straws of hope for the doomed party.

Perhaps, he suggests, Labour may regain momentum if Sinn Féin suffers as a consequence of making hard decisions in government.

That a negative performance by one party might help save Labour is as ridiculous as the idea that a positive performance of another [Social Democrats] might do the same.

The choice facing Labour is simple – remain loyal to the current dying political regime or respond to the demands of the people for radical political change by becoming a genuinely radical left wing party.

No prizes for guessing which road Ivana Bacik will take.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy


From top: Alison O’Connor  (second left) on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ One on February 14; Anthony Sheridan

Irish Examiner columnist Alison O’Connor found herself all alone on Valentine’s night last. Claire Byrne/RTÉ had invited her to participate in a discussion on the dramatic rise in Sinn Féin’s popularity.

As a favourite of the establishment media and strident anti-Sinn Féin commentator Ms. O’Connor probably expected that she would be joining the usual RTE anti-Sinn Fein panel.

But, amazingly, that didn’t happen, the panel was balanced and fair. O’Connor seemed to be genuinely confused with the situation. She began by telling the nation that, given how bad things are, even an opposition of chimpanzees would find it easy to pick it [the Government] off.

This crude and insulting political analysis was followed up with the usual tired guff about Sinn Fein being a ‘strange, cultish party’ that could cause a lot of offence if it got into power.

But then, O’Connor ran out of words. It was as if she suddenly realised that nobody was really listening to her, that they had heard it all before, and, of course they had, ad infinitum

So, in desperation, she did something that no establishment journalist has ever done before – she criticised RTE for imbalanced broadcasting, complaining:

“I would say about some of the debate I heard tonight…that there was some imbalance there. Listening to some of it you’d think we live in a banana republic and that’s not true… I think balance is important.”

O’Connor was confused because by the time she joined the panel, the anti-Sinn Féin side had been routed.

Passionate, articulate Sinn Féin members backed up by others such as Martin Ward and Tony Groves dismantled every argument put by supporters of the political establishment.

Property developer Michael Flynn’s condescending claim that people were being ‘over simplistic’ on the housing crisis, and Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeil’s defence of the private sector’s role in solving the crisis was torn to shreds by a well-informed opposition.

The opinions expressed by the eccentric financial advisor and failed politician Eddie Hobbs provided some light relief. Anybody tempted to take Hobbs seriously has only to recall that after co-founding the far-right party Renua Ireland, he refused to stand for election because he was too busy with other stuff.

And then there was the Fianna Fáil politician, Cllr. Briege Mac Oscar who said parties should be judged on their record. Let’s just repeat that – a Fianna Fáil politician thinks that parties should be judged on their record. Surely, if that was true, Fianna Fail would be struggling for its very survival…oh, wait.

So what happened in that RTÉ studio on Valentine’s night when Ms. O’Connor, at one point, found herself all alone in her titanic struggle against the evils of Sinn Féin?

Could it be that RTÉ was testing out a new producer who was unaware of the station’s long-established policy of packing discussion panels with anti-Sinn Féin commentators?

Or…could it be that the national broadcaster has finally conceded that Sinn Féin is a legitimate political party and the 500,000-plus citizens who voted for the party deserve a fair hearing?

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy

From top: Fintan O’Toole; Anthony Sheridan

It appears from a number of recent articles by Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole that he is suffering from a very special form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD].

His PTSD is special because it is, apparently, only triggered by flashbacks to republican violence during the Northern Ireland conflict which ended 24 years ago.

Fortunately, Fintan is not burdened with memories of the violence carried out by unionists and agents of the British government.

He recently expressed his anguish to Irish Times colleague Deirdre Falvey.

“I can’t vote for Sinn Féin, because I remember too much stuff, that was so cruel, so inhuman. Planting bombs in cafes and pubs just to kill as many young people randomly as you possibly could. I just can’t deal with it, until they’ve dealt with it.”

It seems that PTSD has also affected Fintan’s memory because, to my knowledge, the IRA never pursued a policy of blowing up as many young people as they could. The IRA did, in common with Unionists and British government agents, carry out acts of violence but the age of victims was never a specific policy.

Cynics might say that Fintan was engaging in a strategy practiced by other less sensitive journalists of portraying Sinn Féin as evil incarnate to young voters in the hope of halting the ongoing decline in support for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Of course that just couldn’t be true because, according to Fintan, the Irish Times is the most unbiased newspaper in the entire world. In an astonishing revelation he says:

“I don’t think there’s any other journalist in the world who can say what I can say now. I’ve worked for 34 years for a newspaper, and nobody’s ever told me what to write, or what I couldn’t write. The lawyers might get involved. But an editor has never said to me, stay away from that, or we don’t agree with that, so you’re not allowed to say it. Never, ever, ever. That’s really precious. l don’t know of any of my colleagues in America or Britain who could say that, even people working for really good respectable newspapers.”

So, you see, nobody can accuse Fintan’s Irish Times of political manipulation because, as he says, it’s the most perfect newspaper in the whole world, a newspaper that would never, ever, ever tell a journalist what to write.

In another article, Fintan again revealed the absolute torment he continues to suffer as a result of the war that ended 24 years ago when he strongly suggested that Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane shouting ‘up the Ra’ after the 2020 election could lead to renewed slaughter on the streets of Northern Ireland. he writes”

‘Shouting ‘Up the ‘Ra’ is not a performance by historical re-enactors – it is a live device, primed to explode into contemporary reality.’

Surely there’s no better argument for outlawing Sinn Féin, introducing internment and tearing up the Good Friday Agreement.

OK, that would probably have the side effect of saving Fine Gael/Fianna Fail from political extinction but that would not be Fintan’s intention. His only wish is to recover from the trauma he has suffered throughout the decades.

He wants to be in the same place as the countless thousands of actual victims who have accepted that the war is over, that Sinn Féin is not planning a return to war, that it’s OK to vote for the party.

He longs to join with the United States of America, the United Nations, the European Union, the vast majority of citizens of the Republic, the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland and even the British Royal family, who were direct victims of the conflict, in accepting Sinn Féin as a legitimate political party.

But Fintan can’t deal with the pain, not even after 24 years of peace, not yet – he remembers too much.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy


From top Jordan Peterson: Anthony Sheridan

The clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson is a brilliant wordsmith.  Not only can he talk non-stop about issues close to his heart but he also possesses a powerful array of academic ideas and concepts which he employs to great effect during debates.

Unfortunately, Peterson does not use his extraordinary talents in a positive manner.  Instead, he combines his academic abilities with his word power to create a storm of mostly incoherent but impressively sounding arguments that are primarily focused on deflecting challenges to his often bizarre opinions.

Many of his answers begin with the common cop-out strategy of: Well, it all depends on what you mean by…???…followed by a long bout of academic rambling invariably laced with the names of his favourite writers and philosophers such as Nietzsche, Jung or Dostoevsky.

We witnessed a good example of his modus operandi during a debate with British writer, lecturer and atheist, Susan Blackmore in 2018. The title of the debate was – Do we need God to make sense of life?

Accepting that he lived his life as though god exists Peterson said:

“It’s how you act, not what you say about what you think you think.  What do you know about what you think?  Seriously, I mean we wouldn’t need psychology, anthropology, sociology, the humanities if our thoughts were transparent to us [3:36].”

This may be true of many people but Peterson is a clinical psychologist, his job is primarily about thinking, coming to conclusion on information gathered and advising patients.  Since becoming a global phenomenon he has done little else but tell the world about what he thinks in his books and lectures.

So, clearly, he knows very well what he thinks, about a whole range of topics, and is not in the least bit shy about expressing those views.  It is therefore reasonable to assume that the bizarre opinion expressed above is nothing more than puerile bluster – In a word, Peterson is a bluffer.

This is particularly so when it comes to religion.  It is clear that he believes in Christianity but is, for some reason, unwilling to openly declare that fact.  It could be that he doesn’t want to attract ridicule from his academic peers or perhaps he fears he might be asked to prove the existence of a supernatural entity for which no evidence has ever been produced.

When asked did he believe in God, instead of speaking plain English, he reverted to type:

“Well, I don’t know what people mean when they say ‘believe’.  What do they mean by ‘belief’ and what do they mean by ‘god’ and what makes you think that the question I’m answering is the same question you’re asking?  This is not something you can say yes or no to in a straight forward manner.  To answer the question requires books and lectures [2:20].”

The presenter, to his credit, managed to keep a straight face – I laughed out loud.

But, while entertaining, Peterson can also be a bit of a bully in debate.  For example, in the same programme, Blackmore made the mistake of choosing the wrong word when making a point.  She was explaining that the gratitude she felt for the wonders of nature did not come from religion [30:50]

Peterson, immediately realised that her choice of the word ‘gratitude’ gave him a lever with which to put her down. asking:

“Where do you think it [gratitude] comes from?”


“I think it comes from a recognition from observing the inner consequences of different ways of confronting the world.”

At this point Blackmore should have realised she was using the wrong word, that she was entrapping herself.  She could, for example, have substituted ‘gratitude’ with a more suitable word such as ‘appreciate’.

She continued:

“When I woke this morning I felt a gratitude for the universe.  It’s not really god, it’s not the creator.”

Peterson sprung the trap:

  “Why feel gratitude towards it?”


“I don’t know but I…”

BOOM…when someone debating with a person like Peterson uses the fatal words…I don’t know…they’re finished – game over.

With a smirk of victory, he cut her off, patronisingly intoning – ‘That’s fine’, sounding like a tolerant mother forgiving a child for making a silly mistake [32:51].

During the debate Peterson accused the atheist Richard Dawkins of operating behind several walls [of denial] protecting him from having to deal with the [so called] truths of Christianity.

“You can’t do that, he thundered.  You don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

Probably the best example in history of the pot calling the kettle black.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at Back Garden Philosophy



From top: Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson in Dublin in 2019; Anthony Sheridan

Anthony Sheridan writes:

One of the most memorable clips from the hilarious BBC comedy Fawlty Towers involved Basil [John Cleese] upsetting a group of German diners by constantly making references to the war.

Blissfully unaware of the upset he was causing he warned staff member Polly:

“Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.”

‘Don’t mention the war’ has since become a byword for those wishing to avoid discussing embarrassing issues.

But, it seems, RTÉs London correspondent Sean Whelan has never heard of it.

Reporting on the scandal surrounding Boris Johnson, he had this to say on RTÉ’s News at One:

He’s the only Prime minister in Europe as far as I’m aware that’s being investigated by the police and that’s just not a good look.

“Here you have somebody who is making the rules for the rest of the country and the police force, the people who investigate crime, are now going to be investigating him and his immediate staff and that just looks dreadful, doesn’t it?”

Host Bryan Dobson, immediately realising that Whelan was blissfully unaware of the embarrassing parallels between the UK Prime Minister under police investigation and our soon to be Taoiseach, Varadkar, also under police investigation, studiously avoided responding to such a dangerous question.

I suspect that somebody from RTÉ/Fianna Fail/Fine Gael has since had a word in Whelan’s ear to castigate him for being the only journalist to breach the mainstream media bias protecting Varadkar.

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

Irish Examiner View: Down the rabbit hole with Boris (Irish Examiner)


From top: Leo Varadkar (left) and Boris Johnson in 2020; Today’s Irish Examiner

Anthony Sheridan writes:

Here’s a quote from today’s editorial in the Irish Examiner criticising ethical standards in UK politics:

The sane, sensible and, at times, sedate manner in which politics is generally conducted in Ireland makes us ill-prepared to understand how otherwise civilised nations can tolerate the most outrageous shenanigans of their political leaders.’

Here’s a reality check for this publication:

Leo Varadkar is due to become Taoiseach again within months. He is still the subject of a criminal investigation. There has been practically no recognition, analysis or outrage from mainstream media to this impending potential  disgrace on our country.

In the UK, the ‘outrageous shenanigans’ of political leaders are mercilessly scrutinised and condemned. In Ireland, mainstream media is ultra-selective about which political parties are to be condemned.

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

Irish Examiner View: Down the rabbit hole with Boris (Irish Examiner)