Author Archives: Anthony Sheridan

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)

RollingNews

Babylonian king Hammurabi (left) and mica damage in Donegal

Anthony Sheridan writes:

Nearly 4,000 years ago Hammurabi, king of Babylon, wrote a code of laws.

Here’s one of his laws for builders:

If a builder constructs a house for a man but does not make it conform to specifications so that a wall then buckles, that builder shall make that wall sound using his own silver.’

If our government adopted this law the estimated €3.2 billion cost of the Mica redress scheme would fall on the builders responsible and not on the taxpayer.

But for that to happen the government would also have to adopt Hammurabi’s principle motive for writing his code of laws:

To prevent the strong from oppressing the weak and to see that justice is done to widows and orphans.’

For so long as the current political class remain in power the weak will never receive protection from the strong.

FIGHT!

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

Getty/RTE

From top left to right: Whistleblower Chay Bowes, Michael Smith, editor, Village magazine and John Tye, Founder & Chief Disclosure Officer of Whistleblower Aid at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal in November; Anthony Sheridan

Please note, although this controversy occurred over a month ago and was the subject of an excellent article by Vanessa Foran, I believe the hostile reaction by mainstream media to anti-corruption campaigning deserves as much coverage as possible.’

On November 6, Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford wrote an article that can only be described as gutter journalism at its very worst.

The target of Clifford’s attack was entrepreneur and anti-corruption campaigner Paddy Cosgrave.

Cosgrave is co-founder of the hugely successful Web Summit and used that platform at this year’s event to highlight very serious allegations of corruption against then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The allegations, published by Village magazine, claims that Varadkar illegally leaked a confidential document related to negotiations for a new General Practitioner contract.  The allegations are so serious that Varadkar is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

Cosgrave brilliantly used the event, attended by 43,000 people from 128 countries, to expose to the world the rot that lies at the heart of Ireland’s governance.

After projecting a giant image of the Village Magazine cover that described Mr. Varadkar as a ‘law breaker’, Cosgrave invited the whistleblower, Chay Bowes and the editor of the magazine, Michael Smith, onto the stage.

Clifford focused his attack on Cosgrave and whistleblower Bowes.  He openly questioned Bowes integrity by comparing his courage to the guest of honour at the event, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

‘To present the whole farrago as an introduction to Ms Haugen, a genuine, courageous whistleblower, was arguably insulting to her.’

Clearly, Clifford does not believe that Bowes is a genuine whistleblower despite the fact that his revelations triggered a criminal investigation into the then prime minister of our country.

The journalist then attacked Cosgrave by inaccurately claiming he linked the notorious activities of Weinstein and Epstein with Varadkar’s alleged crime.

Clifford wrote:

‘To leave open the possibility to an uninformed audience that whatever he did could be bracketed in notoriety with the activities of Weinstein and Epstein is contemptible.’

Clifford then, hypocritically, did exactly what he had just [falsely] condemned Cosgrave of doing. He linked the notorious journalist, Gemma O’Doherty with Cosgrave’s actions.

‘Once upon a time, Gemma O’Doherty held a similar role in the public square before she took a sharp turn to the right. There is no reason in the world to believe that Paddy would follow her but you have to wonder what exactly he will do next.’

So why the hypocrisy, why would Clifford insult and condemn one whistleblower and his supporter and praise another?

The answer, I believe, depends on who the whistleblower is and who they are exposing.

Ms. Haugen is an American citizen, she’s an outsider. Her whistleblowing poses no threat to those who rule the roost in Irish politics.

But, in the eyes of an establishment journalist like Clifford, Cosgrave’s relentless and effective anti-corruption campaigning is a direct threat to the power of the ruling political class that he and his newspaper so strongly support.

And Clifford himself, helpfully, provides the evidence for the truth of this claim.

In defence of Varadkar he writes:

‘He [Varadkar] was stupid rather than corrupt and he may have broken the law but there was no personal gain in it for him.’

If it was just a case of stupidity on Varadkar’s part then surely we can expect the Gardai to drop their criminal investigation now that this journalist has delivered his judgement on the case?

It also appears that Clifford does not believe that political corruption is a crime. How else can we reconcile his view that ‘Varadkar may have broken the law but he’s not corrupt’? 

Even more bizarre, particularly for a journalist, is Clifford’s suggestion that there should be no accountability if there was no personal gain in the crime.

But Clifford doesn’t operate alone in the establishment media bubble. Political editor of the Examiner, Daniel McConnell expressed similar views in defence of that other stalwart of the political establishment, Simon Coveney, during the Zappone cronyism scandal.

‘Coveney is not a crooked politician,’ McConnell told the nation adding –

‘The true scandal here has been Coveney and Fine Gael’s utter failure to kill this off long before now.’

Here we have a journalist, the political editor of one of the most influential newspapers in the country suggesting that the ‘killing off’ of a serious scandal involving cronyism and possible law breaking should take precedence over political accountability.

I wrote before about the disturbing malaise that’s eating away at standards in Irish journalism.  Clifford’s intemperate and biased rant is a particularly nasty example of that malaise.

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

Previously: Vanessa Foran: A Reckoning At The Summit

Pic: Web Summit

Cobh Garda station; former minister Shane Ross

This morning.

Anthony Sheridan writes:

On September 23 last I submitted a complaint to Cobh Gardai regarding the alleged criminal leaking of information at Cabinet table discussions, specifically the Zappone appointment leak and accusations by Regina Doherty against former sports minister Shane Ross.

Over the years I have submitted a number of similar complaints regarding alleged political corruption.

I do not submit these complaints with the expectation that those suspected of corruption/criminality will face charges or even be investigated.

Irish citizens will be painfully aware that when it comes to political corruption the wheels of justice remain rusted to the tracks.

The principal reason for submitting the complaints is to substantiate my belief that we live in a dysfunctional democracy where the rich and powerful are allowed to operate outside the law.

I was therefore surprised and delighted to get a telephone call from Cobh Gardai requesting my presence in the station to make a statement regarding the complaint.

It would appear that somebody in Garda Headquarters has decided that the matter warrants investigation.

Could it be that those rusty wheels are beginning to move?

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

Previously: I’d Like To Make A Complaint

RollingNews/Geograph.ie

From top: Economist Dan O’Brien believes house prices and rents are declining; Anthony Sheridan

You’re talking absolute bullshit, journalist Larissa Nolan told economist Dan O’Brien on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor Show.

The issue was housing and O’Brien was telling the nation that house prices and rents were declining and that people should stop catastrophising everything.

It’s astonishing that O’Brien, the chief economist with the Institute of International & European Affairs, is so ignorant of the extent and causes of the housing crisis.

Ms. Nolan also admitted that she didn’t fully understand the underlying reasons but during the discussion she uttered two words that come into common use when a political system becomes hopelessly corrupt – treason and revolution.

Why treason, O’Connor asked in surprise?

Her reply [paraphrased]:

“Because the government has betrayed the people by ignoring their needs in favour of facilitating profit for private landlords.”

She’s not the only person to hold this opinion. Here’s Dr. Rory Hearne, Assistant Professor of Social Policy at Maynooth University:

‘Rising rents is Government policy, and has been since 2011, in order to attract the vulture and real estate investor funds and raise property values to benefit banks.’

Ms. Nolan outlined her personal position in stark terms:

“I’m in the professions, I work 52 weeks of the year and I am nowhere near to being able to buy a one bedroom apartment for me and my son, and that is wrong. There will be a revolution on this soon if it isn’t fixed.”

O’Brien, in a further demonstration of his ignorance, asked Ms. Nolan:

Why would any government who wants to win votes have a policy to make housing more expensive?”

Nolan admitted she didn’t know but then, unwittingly, provided the answer:

“They wanted the rents to go higher and it is now out of control and everybody’s being affected. It didn’t matter so much when it was a certain class being affected, that’s not my view but I notice that socially…and now that it’s moving up the ladder, it’s affecting middle class people with good wages.”

As Ms. Nolan says, things have got out of control. The disease of corruption has debased the political system to such an extent that there is now only one policy – ensure that house prices and rents continue to soar in order to feed the greed of the rich few. That policy, long inflicted on the poor, is now beginning to destroy the wealth of the middle class.

All corrupt regimes exploit and abuse the powerless poor at the bottom of the pile principally by denying basic rights and inflicting oppressive taxes.

European aristocracies engaged in this despotism for centuries until an emerging merchant/middle class found it necessary to begin cutting off heads in order to gain power and respect.

Ms. Nolan describes herself as being ‘in the professions’. In other words, she [accurately] sees herself as middle class. And it is the middle class that invariably leads the people in destroying corrupt political regimes.

When the middle class begin to [correctly] describe government as treasonous and suggest revolution as a possibility then a bout of head rolling cannot be far away.

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

RollingNews

From top: Former Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Shane Ross; Anthony Sheridan

The political administration of Ireland is corrupt. There’s an endless list of examples of such corruption stretching down through the decades but there is no need to delve into the past to make the point.

We only have to note that serious criminality occurs on an ongoing basis at the very heart of our democracy. A small group of just 18 citizens [ministers] wields executive power on behalf of the people. Under the Constitution it is a criminal offence for any of these ministers to breach Cabinet confidentiality.

We know this law has been broken in the case of the proposed appointment of Katherine Zappone. We also know that no member of the Cabinet has acted to protect the integrity of the Constitution by bringing the minister[s] involved to justice.

With this in mind I have submitted the following report to An Garda Siochana [Cobh] requesting that they investigate the alleged crime.

For attention of: An Garda Siochana – Cobh

22 September 2021

I wish to report a number of allegations concerning breaches of Cabinet confidentiality as laid down in Article 28.4 of the Constitution.

First allegation:

That a minister in the current Cabinet illegally leaked information to a media source concerning the Katherine Zappone appointment.

I submit the following information in support of this allegation.

On September 1 2021 the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe was interviewed by RTE presenter Claire Byrne. It is clear from Minister Donohoe’s comments that he is aware of the allegations of criminal activity within the Cabinet.

Claire Byrne: “One of your party colleagues leaked the news about the Katherine Zappone appointment while the Cabinet meeting was still in session. Do you understand what the problem is?”

Minister Donohoe: “Of course I understand what the issue is here. I know there are allegations and the case is being made that material did emit from Cabinet when decisions were being made.”

A number of other ministers were also interviewed by media indicating that they are aware of the criminal allegations, including: Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister Catherine Martin….and others.

The Irish Examiner newspaper is a possible link to the ministerial leak as evidenced by a comment in that newspaper by the paper’s political editor, Daniel McConnell on September 2:

“As Cabinet was still ongoing, news of the appointment was reported online by the Irish Examiner.”

Second allegation:

Fine Gael senator Regina Doherty has accused former minister Shane Ross of breaching Cabinet confidentiality.

I submit the following information in support of this allegation:

Report in Irish Examiner, 29 Oct 2020: Former Minister for Social Protection, now Senator, Regina Doherty demanded action to be taken against Mr Ross for the book [by Mr. Ross] which she says breaches Cabinet confidentiality.

In the same report Mr. Ross appears to confirm that breaches of Cabinet confidentiality were common:

“You might as well have an RTÉ camera in the room the way information was being live tweeted to journalists,” he said.

Report in the Irish Independent, 28 Oct 2020 concerning the same allegation:

Mr. Ross admitted he did not seek a High Court ruling to reveal details of Cabinet meetings as required under the Constitution. He justified his action with the following comment:

“I don’t expect there will be any prosecutions, either, as the precedent is there for them having done this.”

Mr. Ross further revealed that leaks were a big issue when he served as minister and revealed an incident concerning Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

“The result of that was one day Simon Coveney said, ‘This item we are now discussing, okay, it is out on RTÉ already what is being said at this cabinet meeting.”’

Relevant section of the Constitution:

Inserted a new subsection in Article 28.4:

3º The confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government shall be respected in all circumstances save only where the High Court determines that disclosure should be made in respect of a particular matter-

i. in the interests of the administration of justice by a Court, or

ii. by virtue of an overriding public interest, pursuant to an application in that behalf by a tribunal appointed by the Government or a Minister of the Government on the authority of the Houses of the Oireachtas to inquire into a matter stated by them to be of public importance.

I request that this matter be investigated as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely
Anthony Sheridan

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

RollingNews

From top: Green Party Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin (centre)

Green Party TD Catherine Martin is unfit to represent the people of Ireland. On Thursday, September 2 she cashed in her political integrity when RTÉs Claire Byrne asked her how she felt about the abuse of Cabinet confidentiality.

Claire Byrne: “How do you feel about Cabinet confidentiality being abused?”

Catherine Martin: “I think that’s an internal matter for Fine Gael.”

Byrne: “But it’s not just a matter for one party, it’s a very serious matter for government.”

Martin: “And that’s why I’m saying I’m not happy with the process. I hope lessons are learned and transparency is put in place.”

Byrne: “But when it comes to the leak, that’s a criminal offence?”

Martin: “That’s an issue for, you know, that is absolutely unacceptable that leaks would happen like that but it’s up to that individual…interrupted.”

Byrne: “No, it’s not, it’s a really serious matter for government, it’s a really serious matter for the entire cabinet and a really serious matter for you as a member of that cabinet.

Ms. Martin knows that breaching Cabinet confidentiality is a criminal act and that she, as a cabinet minister, is not only obliged to acknowledge the crime but to act on that knowledge.

By failing to act Ms. Martin has tainted the seal of office bestowed on her by the people of Ireland and thrown in her lot with the cabal of political shysters who have inflicted so much damage on Ireland over the decades.

Whenever an individual or party decides to enter government in Ireland they must make a choice. Challenge and expose the rot eating away at the core of the state or abandon all principles and collaborate with those who have no regard for democracy or the interests of the country.

Clearly, Ms Martin has chosen the latter. It’s likely that her motives are based on the genuine but naïve belief that the end justifies the means. That the implementation of her party’s political agenda is worth the abandonment of her political principles – if so, she is seriously wrong in that belief.

Ireland is not a normal democratic state. The disease of political corruption has polluted the administration of the state to such an extent that all who associate themselves with the diseased become diseased themselves.

This disease must first be eradicated before our country has any hope of becoming a healthy democracy. For that to happen good people must deploy the weapons of courage and principle against the political shysters.

Ms. Martin’s failure to do so will see the people remove her and her party from power at the first opportunity.

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

RollingNews

From top: Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald faces the press at Leinster House; Anthony Sheridan

There’s a constant stream of articles by mainstream journalists struggling to explain why the political establishment they so loyally serve, continues to lose popular support.

The articles all take similar form.

A brief history of the failing fortunes of their favoured party, be it Fine Gael, Fianna Fail or Labour. Sometimes we’re presented with bizarre reasons for the collapse in support for these parties but more often than not, no explanation whatsoever is given.

In place of truth and reality these journalists invariably resort to delusional analysis.

Harry McGee, the political correspondent with the Irish Times, provided one such example recently.

Writing about Fianna Fail’s continuing decline, he makes the following points without providing any explanation or analysis.

The rapidly changing nature of Irish society [forced] Fine Gael and Fianna Fail into coalition.

The 85% vote received by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the 1982 election was halved by 2020.

Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, will almost certainly be the next Taoiseach.

So here, briefly, is the reason for the above developments which McGee fears to address.

It was not the changing nature of Irish society that led Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to form a coalition. It was an act of desperation by both parties to hold onto the power and privilege they have enjoyed for decades.

The continuing fall in support for the parties of the centre between 1982 and 2020 is a direct consequence of the incompetence, arrogance and corruption of the ruling political class.

McDonald is likely to be the next Taoiseach because the people are desperate to get rid of the current corrupt political class. The people want radical change, that’s what they have been voting for over the past several elections.

Establishment journalists do not see this because they operate within the same bubble occupied by the ruling political class.

So, instead of exposing the rot at the centre of Irish politics, journalists such as McGee resort to attacking those who are challenging the old, dying regime. Sinn Féin, because it poses the greatest threat to the power of that regime, is usually the prime target.

McGee’s analysis is both amateurish and delusional. He claims that a section of the electorate is strongly opposed to a Sinn Féin led government because of…

‘…the horrible, inhumane and cruel things the republican movement did during the troubles for which there were no grounds to claim justification.’

There is no doubt that there are many opposed to a Sinn Féin-led government because of what happened during the troubles but for a journalist to make such a political point without a balancing context, is to indulge in cheap propaganda.

For example, he could have balanced the activities of the republican movement with the ruthless apartheid system operated by Unionists over a period of 50 years.

Next, he praises the openness of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s weekly parliamentary meetings and condemns the so-called secrecy of Sinn Féin meetings, suggesting that the party is acting undemocratically.

Of course, McGee knows very well that all political parties strive to keep their weekly meetings private. The only reason we know what goes on at FG/FF meetings is because they leak like a sieve. He also knows that the leaks are a reflection of the rancour and disunity within these two parties while Sinn Féin’s success in keeping their deliberations confidential is an indication of the party’s unity of purpose.

McGee ends his article on a note of high arrogance when he wonders how Sinn Fein will deal with sensitive security departments if they enter government, writing:

‘How will it deal with the Department of Justice, the Defence Forces and the Garda? Sinn Féin is an erstwhile enemy, there is no other way of putting it.’

Actually, there is another way of putting it.

Sinn Féin is a 100% legitimate political party with massive and growing support. That support stems from the democratic power of the people who are more than willing to trust Sinn Fein representatives serving in any department.

It is the height of paternalistic arrogance for a journalist to take upon himself the notion that the people’s democratic choice should be conditional or limited in any manner, in forming a government.

In his unquestioning loyalty to the rotten centre of Irish politics McGee is blind to the fact that the people are increasingly seeing his beloved political class as the enemy and Sinn Féin as the only hope for an accountable democracy.

This type of journalism is not without consequences. Good quality political analysis is critical in a democracy. When journalists speak truth to power, political behaviour improves and democracy remains healthy.

When politicians are confident that journalists will not only defend their errant behaviour but actively attack those who challenge the rotten status quo, the political system and democracy is exposed to serious damage.

That is exactly what is happening in Ireland today.

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

RollingNews

From top: Flooding at Cobh harbour, county Cork; Anthony Sheridan

RTÉ presenter Kathryn Thomas, sitting in for Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio One,  was bubbling with optimism as she introduced author Oisin McGann to talk about his new book – A Short, Hopeful Guide to Climate Change.

While documentaries on climate change are great they can, at times, be a bit overwhelming Thomas told listeners, so she was delighted with the publication of a book with the word ‘hopeful’ in it.

The author, who wrote the book on request from Little Island Books and Friends of the Earth, was equally optimistic about the future, saying:

“People have been working on this [saving the environment] for a very long time, the progress that built our civilisation is still going and it’s taking us away from fossil fuels.”

Thomas enthusiastically agreed:

“Greta Thunberg. and all the rallies that have been happening around the world are great but it’s sometimes forgotten that a lot of the environmental work has been done as far back as the 80s.”

McGann added:

“This is the first time as a species we’ve decided to take on something that is a planet wide problem and do something about it. Things are happening, Shell lost a big court case, Bord Na Mona have stopped mining peat.”

Yes, Thomas agreed and Ireland has passed its first climate bill.

I shouldn’t have, but, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at this example of hope for the future.

Thomas concluded the interview on an optimistic note:

“There’s lots to be hopeful about and as David Attenborough said, we have a decade to change and while that doesn’t sound like a long time, there is momentum and we’ve got to be hopeful.”

I really, really despair when I listen to such discussions. Neither McGann nor Thomas are aware that it is they who pose the greatest danger because they promote hope as a solution when fear is the only emotion that gives humans any chance of survival.

When humans are filled with hope they sit back and do little or nothing. When they’re filled with fear they take immediate action.

This is because over millions of years, the human brain, of necessity, evolved into a strictly short-term acting entity. This makes sense when we consider that for almost all of history, humans only had to deal with short-term problems, principally concerning food, shelter and protection.

Humans can imagine into the long-term but cannot act in the present to resolve problems that may arise in the far future. It is only when a problem becomes short-term, when humans are faced with immediate danger that they respond effectively.

In other words – fear is the psychological spark that triggers immediate action when faced with catastrophe.

The book is aimed at teenagers, the generation that will bear the brunt of what’s coming. They need to be told the truth so that they feel the fear which in turn may trigger the action necessary to save themselves.

Here’s just one example:

In the latest David Attenborough documentary [Breaking boundaries: The science of our planet] we are told that the Greenland ice sheet cannot be saved. The ice sheet is losing 10,000 cubic metres per second.

Before this astonishing figure was complete, my mind was guessing the timescale – per month, no, perhaps per week or even per day…no, I thought it couldn’t be that bad.

So….just to repeat: It’s losing 10,000 cubic metres – per second.

Its unstoppable destruction will result in a 7 metre rise in sea levels. This is not an IF, it’s going to happen, very soon.

I live in Cobh, in Cork harbour. The 7 metre rise will destroy the town front. The deep water quay, railway station, heritage centre, Victorian promenade and all the homes and business along the town will be submerged – forever.

But Cobh raises steeply from the sea so the higher areas will survive, for the time being anyway. Cork city will not be so lucky. The city is built on a swamp, it suffers regular flooding particularly when tide and wind are in sync.

Very soon, this will no longer be a problem after the sea engulfs the city – forever.

This 7 metre rise will, of course, be catastrophic for all coastal cities and towns in Ireland and around the world, there is no way to stop it.

False hope is as dangerous as ignoring or denying what’s about to happen. The instilling of global fear is the only rational strategy if we’re to avoid the complete collapse of civilisation.

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

RollingNews

Pic: Jimmy Stafford

From top: Irish Times article on Sinn Féin’s ‘opposition’ to new housing; Anthony Sheridan

On June 25 last the Irish Times published an article under the headline:’Sinn Féin has opposed building of 6,000 homes across Dublin, says Fine Gael report’.

There was strong reaction to the piece on social media with many feeling it was little more than a propaganda piece for Fine Gael, facilitated by the Irish Times and designed to damage Sinn Féin in the run-up to the by-election in Dublin Bay South.

Whatever the truth or otherwise of this claim, the journalist Jennifer Bray’s response to the online criticism tells us absolutely nothing about Sinn Féin.

It does, however, tell us a great deal about Irish journalism. Here’s her tweet:

In these 53 words Ms. Bray seemingly abandons journalistic integrity and descends to the undergrowth where the trolls live and operate.

A deconstruction of her tweet reveals the truth of this conclusion.

Called a despicable propagandist

This opinion may be harsh but it is legitimate. It is not unknown for establishment media to publish reports from favoured sources and pass them off as genuine articles particularly in the run up to elections.

among many other slurs

Irrelevant – no facts provided.

Many faceless trolls

Anonymous trolls are a fact of life on social media and should be ignored or reported if possible.

It is most often on foot of articles about Sinn Fein

This is where Ms. Bray’s journalistic integrity takes flight. She is clearly implying, without evidence, that Sinn Féin is guilty of attacking her on social media. Many will not see the words ‘it is most often’. They will focus on the words ‘Sinn Fein’ and think – oh it’s that nasty Sinn Féin party attacking people again.

As a journalist it is likely Ms. Bray is aware of this. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that her offensive suggestion appeared designed to damage Sinn Féin. If that is the case then she is guilty of the same loathsome social media behaviour she so stridently condemns in others.

I mute and block and am totally grand

This is a victim plea designed to attract sympathy. Portraying oneself as a victim struggling against adversity strengthens an accusation particularly an accusation without evidence.

But it would be nice to see SF TDs who are tagged in this stuff call it out

Ms. Bray will be aware that it is impossible for Sinn Féin or any other group to control what other people publish on social media. She will also be aware that it is easy for anybody to create an anonymous account with the aim of smearing those they wish to damage. The recent Eoghan Harris scandal is a particularly nasty example of this strategy.

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that this final comment is an attempt to associate individual Sinn Féin TDs with abusive social media trolls.

Ms. Bray has a responsibility above that of ordinary users on social media platforms. She writes for a newspaper that enjoys a great deal of trust and respect among the population. As an opinion maker she wields a great deal of influence on how people form their opinions.

When she writes from the troll undergrowth she damages her own reputation and betrays the trust of her readers.

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

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