Tag Archives: Anthony Sheridan

From top: Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald; Anthony Sheridan

A deep and disturbing malaise has taken hold of journalism right across mainstream media.  The infection stems from the decades long close and  inappropriate association of journalists with the rotten centre of Irish politics principally composed of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour.

For a long time the sickness was hardly noticeable but the brutal austerity implemented by the political centre in response to the 2008 economic collapse opened the eyes of many Irish citizens.

And not just to how power was wielded in the interests of the powerful, but how mainstream media provided unquestioning support for the actions of the political establishment.

The unhealthy relationship between mainstream media and the ruling political class has become so close that the journalists themselves seem to be genuinely unaware of it.

A recent political podcast by the Irish Times, in which readers were invited to submit questions to journalists, provides a startling example of how mainstream journalism has become a parody of what good journalism should be all about.

I submitted the following question to the podcast which was selected for discussion:

Why is the link between the rise of Sinn Fein and the ongoing disintegration of the political centre ignored by mainstream media?

Almost all comment and analysis surrounding this historic development focuses on attacking Sinn Fein on behalf of and in defence of the political centre.

There is virtually no analysis or comment as to why this is happening.

Harry McGee, the Irish Times political correspondent, responded but failed to adequately address the question.  Instead, he unwittingly revealed the true nature of the tainted relationship between mainstream journalism and the political establishment. He said:

“We’re working in an environment that is like a big boarding school and the thing is, you do forge relationships with politicians.  And journalists depend on politicians especially when they’re looking to get stories in advance.  And that makes it slightly problematic when it comes to criticising politicians – suddenly you have to pounce and bite the hand that feeds.”

Effectively, McGee is making the shocking admission that Irish mainstream journalists do not observe one of the central principles of international journalism – the obligation to speak truth to power.

He is candidly admitting that mainstream journalists do not come down hard on establishment politicians because they depend on them for stories.

It is, of course, true that journalists line up like ducks in a pond to be fed tit bits by politicians in return for favourable reportage but it is rare to witness a journalist actually admit to this reality.

McGee went on to deny that there was any concerted attack on Sinn Féin feebly claiming that the problem lay with Sinn Fein’s reluctance to make itself accessible to media.

“It’s not so much that there’s any attempt to attack Sinn Fein.  I think there’s just been a difficulty of getting access to Sinn Fein but that has become less of a difficulty in recent years.”

The notion that Sinn Féin is shy about engaging with media is almost as ridiculous as claiming that there’s no concerted campaign against the rise of that party.

So here’s the truth that McGee and his colleagues in mainstream media are so fearful of confronting.

The political centre is on a death spiral after decades of corruption, incompetence and arrogance wrapped in a blanket of delusion that they have a divine right to rule.

This is not opinion, it’s fact.  Labour are in the waiting room to extinction, Fine Gael effectively lost the last three elections and Fianna Fail are struggling to remain relevant as the the party begins to tear itself asunder in an internal civil war.

All of this has come about for one simple but powerful reason – the Irish electorate, in election after election, has rejected the old corrupt regime and is demanding radical change.

But this ongoing revolutionary shift across the entire political landscape is practically ignored by mainstream media.  Instead, in an increasingly desperate effort to defend and preserve the old regime, we see an avalanche of ‘end of civilisation’ type articles and broadcasts warning of the dangers of populism, Trumpism, the so-called evils of social media and increasingly bizarre anti-Sinn Fein propaganda.

The sickness that has resulted in mainstream media abandoning its obligation to speak truth to power is best summed up by McGee’s mindset:

‘We fear criticising politicians in case they stop giving us stories’

This dangerous mindset is in stark contrast to the highest principles of the profession as expressed by the French philosopher Michel Foucault:

“Only the courageous may pursue the truth-to-power course as they risk losing their friends, their liberty, even their lives.”

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

RollingNews

David Quinn (top) has blocked Anthony Sheridan (above) on Twitter

Recently, militant Catholic David Quinn blocked me on Twitter. Mr. Quinn was defending the reputation of the Catholic Church[CC].

Here’s the text of my ‘offending’ tweet:

Wrong. The CC is global and Ireland was a particularly good breeding ground for brutal priests and nuns who obeyed orders without question.

I’m an atheist so it might be thought a block was to be expected but in fact myself and Quinn have engaged in various twitter discussions over a number of years without a block in sight.

His decision to block me is all the more puzzling because just nine days later he wrote an article in the Sunday Times extolling his virtues of tolerance.

He was writing about a matter of which both of us are in full agreement, the hilariously stupid decision of the Trinity College Historical Society to cancel an invitation to atheist Richard Dawkins to speak at the college.

Quinn strongly believes, as I do, that Dawkins should not have been banned, that free speech, no matter how controversial, is paramount.

To demonstrate his unlimited respect for free speech Quinn quoted some views held by Dawkins.

That raising a child as a Catholic can be compared to sexual abuse.

That the Catholic Church is a disgusting institution.

That the god of the Old Testament is a genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Obviously, Quinn does not agree with these views but, because of his [apparent] respect for freedom of speech he’s prepared to defend Dawkins’ right to express them.

The decision by the Trinity Historical Society to cancel Dawkins’ speech was, according to Quinn:

Another example of cancel culture, which seeks to deprive people of platforms when their views are deemed offensive to certain groups.

So why, I ask, did Quinn ‘cancel culture’ me from his twitter link for making a relatively benign [and truthful] comment?

Hypocrisy, I suspect, is the answer. In public Quinn pretends to be a hero of tolerance while in private he deletes those who challenge his beliefs, just as his Catholic Church has been doing for centuries.

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

From top: Chief Justice Frank Clarke and Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe; Anthony Sheridan

OK, let’s get the obvious truth out in the open – Séamus Woulfe is a dud judge. He’s not fit to judge a dog show never mind sit in judgement in the highest court in the land. [With sincere apologies to all dog show judges.]

We only have to look at some of his judgements surrounding Golfgate to see how unfit he is to hold such a high position. As a Supreme Court judge he felt it was acceptable to:

Party with politicians.

Break Covid 19 rules he had helped draw up.

Blame everybody else for the consequences of his bad judgements.

Furthermore, it is clear that his overweening arrogance has completely blinded him to the core reality surrounding his behaviour – the obvious requirement for his immediate resignation.

In addition to all this he has completely misread the clear signals encouraging him to take the honourable course of falling on his sword.

The first signal came from retired Supreme Court judge Susan Denham’s report when she found it would be unjust and disproportionate to call for his resignation. The key words here are ‘to call for’. Anyone not overwhelmed by their own self importance would have clearly understood the subtle message – wield the sword yourself.

Clearly, Judge Woulfe does not do subtlety so a second signal was necessary.

This occurred when the Judicial Council released the entire transcript of Woulfe’s first interview with Ms. justice Denham. This unprecedented public washing of judicial dirty laundry had many cringing in embarrassment at the bizarre and abject excuses proffered by justice Woulfe.

Everybody, that is, except Woulfe himself. He seems to be genuinely puzzled by the angry response of politicians, colleagues in the judiciary and the general public.

It was time to call in the heavy gang, so to speak. Three senior judges met with Mr. Justice Woulfe to discuss how the matter could be resolved. It has been reported that the meeting did not go well, that Woulfe was shocked by the proposals they were offering to resolve the matter.

Did not go well, is, without doubt, the understatement of the year.

It is highly likely that the judges [metaphorically of course] took Woulfe by the throat, pinned him up against a wall and shouted in his face: ‘Resign you fool before you do any more damage to our reputation.’

But still, the thickness of his skull prevented the message from getting through. Instead of recognising the brutal fact that his Supreme Court career is over, Woulfe decided to call in sick.

There is now no way back for justice Woulfe nor, indeed, the judiciary. All the dirty laundry is out there. If he is not removed or forced to resign the reputational damage to the judiciary will be enormous and permanent.

And Mr. Justice Woulfe will not primarily be responsible for that damage. His complete lack of understanding of the responsibilities and propriety expected of a Supreme Court judge has earned him a gold plated fool’s pass.

No, responsibility lies with the judiciary and the mainstream political parties who, over the decades, formed a relationship so close it left no room for the accountability that is the norm in other jurisdictions.

It was inevitable, sooner or later, that a Woulfe in judge’s clothing would gain entry and wreak the havoc we are now witnessing.

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

Pic: Courts Service

From top: Sunday Times last Sunday; Anthony Sheridan

Sarah McInerney is one of RTÉs top news and current affairs broadcasters. As such she is required to exercise strict impartiality on all matters controversial but particularly in relation to political issues.

The general public should not be able to tell the personal views of broadcasters such as McInerney. So my question is, why is she allowed to express strong personal political opinions in her column in the Sunday Times?

Just last Sunday, for example, she expressed the opinion that the Taoiseach’s debilitating amiability is a liability in government. Martin has been too nice for too long; she thundered before going on to say that his softly, softly approach to challenges from his Parliamentary Party and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar was not good for Fianna Fáil.

Her final paragraph could have come from the mouth of the Taoiseach’s most worried advisor:

You have to play the political game, no matter how distasteful it may be. If Martin wants to survive two years as Taoiseach, with his party still intact, it’s time for a mini makeover. No more Mr Nice Guy.

RTÉ’s guidelines on impartiality are crystal clear:

[Section 8.4 Impartiality] Our audiences should not be able to tell from our output the personal views of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.

And, more precisely:

…may not express personal views in RTÉ output, online or elsewhere, [my bolding] and must be careful in their use of social media to avoid any perception of partiality.

Everyone who read the article now knows that McInerney is concerned about Michael Martin’s performance as Taoiseach and the continuing drop in support for Fianna Fáil. This is damaging to her credibility as a news and current affairs broadcaster.

Any robust questioning of opposition TDs will be seen as support for Fianna Faál. Any perceived soft interview with Fianna Fáil TDs or ministers will be seen in a similar light.

As one of the most popular and admired news broadcasters in the country McInerney has the potential to wield enormous political influence. She should not be allowed to do so. Time RTÉ management had a word.

Sarah McInerney and political impartiality (Public Inquiry)

Previously: Eamonn Kelly: Sleepily Comfortable And Casually Condescending

Rollingnews

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

Rollingnews

From top: Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams (left)and Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan; Anthony Sheridan

Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford believes there is an organised social media campaign by some in politics to discredit mainstream media.

Increasingly in some quarters of politics, social media is used to attempt to systemically discredit the media. This is designed to encourage the public to ignore anything negative that appears in the media about a particular politician or party.

This attack on the media, according to Clifford, encourages people to ignore facts and blame the messenger. And, he warns, the tactic is undermining the media’s role in holding power to account.

Specifically, Clifford is writing about Sinn Féin supporters who allege that mainstream media is biased against the party. He goes on to accuse those supporters of using the bias claim to discredit negative scrutiny of Sinn Féin.

Michael Clifford is wrong, as wrong as only an establishment journalist can be when faced with the uncomfortable truth of rampant mainstream media bias.

There are any number of examples of this bias not just against Sinn Féin but against any person or organisation, such as the water protesters, who threaten the power of the ruling political establishment.

The following is just one example from Clifford’s newspaper, The Irish Examiner.

A few weeks ago the leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan used the ‘N’ word during a speech in the Dail. Ryan was referring to an article in the Irish Times by the writer Sean Gallen in which he described how racist abuse during his childhood affected his whole life.

Here’s how the political editor of the Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell, responded:

Eamon Ryan is not racist.

The reaction to {Ryan} was astonishing and, in places, downright nasty. On social media, the great online sewer, he was slammed.

Was Ryan wrong to use it as opposed to saying ‘the N-word’ or some other variation when making his point? Or was he justified in saying it within the context of highlighting the abuse suffered by Gallen?

The rush to condemn did on one level smack of the disturbing pattern of the left to preach to everyone as to what speech is acceptable and which is not.

The moral high priests and priestesses who seem to go out their way to take offence do little to progress the cause of inclusivity or equality.

Four years ago, in May 2016, the then leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams also used the ‘N’ word in the exact same manner as Ryan.

That is, he used the word in the context of the suffering of the nationalist population of Northern Ireland under British/Unionist rule, just as Ryan used it to highlight the abuse suffered by Gallen.

The bias of the Irish Examiner is exposed for all to see when the favourable [and justified] defence of Ryan is contrasted against the  judgement of Adams in a damning editorial [I have bolded what I consider to be the contradictions between the two responses]:

While Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has defended using a racist word for a black person in a tweet, his judgement must be called into question.

As leader of a political party, he has a duty to guard against making gratuitously offensive references.

Whether he likes it or not, his Sunday night use of the six-letter N-word is the kind of word that is synonymous with the attitude towards black people in America’s deep south. Whether used unwittingly or not, it a deeply offensive term.

It is simply not good enough to tell his followers on the social media platform Twitter that he was watching a Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, comparing the struggle against slavery in the US to the struggle by Irish nationalists.

If it had been a film about US president Barack Obama, he would hardly have used such a racist term. So why did he use it? Having drawn criticism on both social media and the Washington Times, that is the right question which Mr Adams must ask himself.

Mr. Clifford tells us that the so-called tactic by ‘some quarters of politics’ on social media to discredit mainstream media is undermining the media’s role in holding power to account.

There’s no need of such a conspiracy.

A declining standard of professionalism coupled with an obvious bias against those who challenge the ruling political establishment are doing more than enough to undermine trust in and credibility of mainstream media.

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

Irish Examiner Bias (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

Rollingnews

From top: Dublin city centre yesterday; Anthony Sheridan

At first, the humans blamed the rat for bringing the Black Death plague that killed about 100 million over the centuries.

Then the humans decided it wasn’t the rat but the fleas hitching a ride on the rats that were to blame. Then, much later, they learned it wasn’t the fleas but a bacterium hiding out in the fleas that was responsible.

But humans weren’t the only ones observing such things.

The clever bacterium, through the process of evolution, realised that killing too many of its human hosts would mean self-extinction so it evolved into a less deadly virus.

Then, in 1918, the virus lost the run of itself again, killing between 20 and 50 million humans. So, once again in order to survive, it evolved into a milder pathogen that’s still killing humans today but not so many that its survival is threatened.

In 2009, for example, it killed a mere 284,000 humans, just enough to keep it going while keeping its human stock available for future consumption.

The current model, Covid 19, has killed over 400,000 so an easing off should kick in some time soon. So we can see – the virus learns lessons as it progresses, it has learned how to control its greed in order to guarantee its long-term survival.

Sadly, humans are not as clever. About 12,000 years ago they created a deadly virus called Capitalism. For thousands of years this virus was benign, it did little or no harm and humans came to love the benefits it brought.

But then the virus became malignant around the time humans call the Industrial Revolution. It turned in on itself and began to voraciously consume nature, its creator and only means of survival.

But, unlike the clever plague virus, humans have failed miserably to evolve a strategy that would allow them to continue enjoying the benefits of the capitalist virus while at the same time ensuring their long-term survival.

Instead, they have become hopelessly addicted to the all powerful, all consuming virus that’s leading them ever closer to the abyss.

Of course, there are plenty of humans only too aware of the impending disaster but, tragically, not enough to derail the juggernaut virus that is capitalism. The human created virus is out of control, rapidly consuming its own existence.

Here are some really scary quotes from experts who are trying to sound the alarm.

‘Vested interests and corrupt politicians combined with a population happy to deny problems overwhelm those that are trying to promulgate truth and facts.’

‘No amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us.’

‘We’re currently consuming resources as if there were four Earths.’

‘We are in a state of planetary emergency.’

‘On the current trajectory we’re possibly gone already.’

And these experts are not the only ones worried. The Black Death virus that has so successfully evolved survival strategies over the centuries is now facing extinction when [not if] the capitalist virus extinguishes humanity.

Who’s going to take the blame then?

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

Humans: Not AS Clever As The Virus (BackGardenPhilosophy)

Rollingnews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three: Include a deeply emotional element to the question.

The impossible to answer question consisted of two parts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

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

RTE/Rollingnews

From top: Protesters rally against China’s national security law, in Hong Kong, on May 27; Anthony Sheridan

Hong Kong belongs to the Chinese in exactly the same way as the Isle of Wight belongs to the British.

Here’s how Britain came to own Hong Kong. In the 19th century the British East Indian Company was making huge profits in the illegal smuggling of drugs [opium] into China.

This criminal activity did serious damage to the Chinese economy and resulted in widespread drug addiction among the population.

The Chinese authorities appealed to Queen Victoria to stop the drug trade, she ignored them. The authorities then offered to allow the merchants to trade in tea in place of opium but this too was rejected. As a last resort the authorities confiscated supplies of opium and imposed a blockade of foreign ships.

The British responded by going to war. They defeated the Chinese and in the subsequent peace treaty demanded and were given ownership of Hong Kong.

For the next 150 years Hong Kong was ruled from London through a British appointed governor, there was no democracy under British rule.

Hong Kong citizens were never happy with this lack of democracy and frequently rebelled. In 1856, for example, when a very limited form of democracy was suggested the Colonial Office rejected the idea on the grounds that:

‘Chinese residents had no respect for the principles upon which social order rests.’

The current Chinese dictatorship holds the exact same anti-democratic view.

Chris Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong before the territory was handed back to the Chinese in 1997, is outraged by this anti-democratic policy.

Here’s some of what he had to say in  a recent article:

“The world simply cannot trust this Chinese regime. Liberal democracies and friends of Hong Kong everywhere must make it clear that they will stand up for this great, free and dynamic city.”

But Patten’s complaints are futile and hypocritical.

They are futile because China is now an empire and Britain a mere backwater on the world stage. They are hypocritical because the Chinese are not doing anything the British did not do during their occupation of Hong Kong.

And there’s another important point, Hong Kong is geographically and culturally part of China. Britain, on the other hand is nearly six thousand miles away from its former colony.

Let’s imagine a reversal of history. Let’s imagine that China was the most powerful empire in the world in the 19th century and went to war with Britain because it was prevented from selling illegal drugs to the British people. Let’s imagine that after defeat the British were forced to hand over the Isle of Wight to the Chinese.

Fast forward to the present day and the Chinese, having lost their empire, are forced by the British to give the island back.

How would the British respond if the former Chinese colonists, from six thousand miles away in Beijing, began to lecture London on how they should govern the newly liberated territory.

I think we know the answer to that.

China agreed to give some political and social autonomy to Hong Kong through a ‘one country, two systems’ policy for a 50 year period.

That a ruthless communist regime should actually honour that promise for nearly half that period is nothing short of a miracle. Again, if the situation was reversed, would the UK honour such an agreement, particularly if its political and commercial interests were threatened – highly unlikely.

And it is principally commercial interests that lie behind the, so far, relatively benign response by the Chinese government to events in Hong Kong. The city is an extremely rich capitalist money-making machine and China is fast becoming the most powerful and richest capitalist country in the world.

The Chinese government want two things, to continue sharing the wealth generated by Hong Kong but, at the same time, exercise total political power over its citizens. In a word – they want capitalism but not democracy.

And that policy is a carbon-copy of the policy imposed by the British during their undemocratic rule of the territory.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Hong Kong And Democracy (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

Pic: Getty

From top: Oliver Callan; Anthony Sheridan

Comedian Oliver Callan is a confused man and his confusion is getting him into all kinds of trouble.

He’s in trouble because he doesn’t understand the difference between harmless political satire and serious political comment.

If Callan was an ordinary Joe Soap comedian his confusion would not be a problem.  But Callan is not an ordinary Joe Soap, much of his income comes from powerful sources within the establishment such as RTÉ and The Irish Times.

The rule is simple:  If you work for the establishment, you don’t attack the establishment.

There’s just one exception to this rule. If you’re a comedian you can slag off the establishment if, and only if, your comments are made within the strict confines of comedy.

Clearly, Callan doesn’t understand this rule.

Recently he tweeted a very strong criticism of the leader of the establishment itself – Leo Varadkar.

‘The arrogance is astounding.  As covid19 kills scores and puts 500k on dole, Taoiseach [on full pay & exp] alleges without proof that workers are seeking layoffs to exploit benefits.  The SF leader gloats the crisis proves she’s ‘’right’.  Are we in  this together or not??? FFS’

Somebody must have had a word in his ear.  Perhaps a call from RTÉ or The Irish Times or maybe even a call from the Great Leader himself.

In any case, Callan quickly deleted the tweet with the following seriously pathetic excuse:

‘OK OK so I deleted my tweet referencing Leo’s comments on welfare applicants and Mary Lou’s opinion piece in IT.  I wasn’t fair to either of them and if we are in this together, I’ll have to simmer down too.’

This wimpish but understandably self-interested climbdown was rightfully torn to shreds on twitter.

So let’s have a look at the difference between Varadkar’s comments and McDonald’s Irish Times article.

McDonald wrote a well balanced, well informed article on the current political situation focusing particularly on the disgraceful, anti-democratic exclusion of Sinn Féin from government formation talks by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Varadkar, on the other hand, obnoxiously and without any proof accused citizens of exploiting layoff benefits.

But, according to Callan’s flaky logic, Varadkar’s vile accusation is no worse than McDonald’s reasoned political analysis.

This is the mindset of a man running in fear of those with power to damage his interests.

All went quiet then…for a while.  Callan probably thought he was off the hook, that he was still in the establishment’s good books. But, once again, he made the massive error of mixing up satire with serious political comment.

In another tweet he described a speech delivered by the Great Leader as wooden and robotic.

Clearly, Callan was not getting the message – If you work for the establishment you cannot criticise the establishment.

To hammer home that message, the mistress of the establishment’s high moral ground was called into action, Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan.

Personally naming Callan, Sheridan did not mince her words:

‘Cheap, personal shots at politicians demean everyone involved.’

Callan, at last, got the message.

In an article that would embarrass even the most toadying, most servile supporter of the establishment Callan prostrated himself in a spineless effort to regain favour.

The Great Leader, who just days before was described by Callan as  an arrogant robot, suddenly morphed into a man of passion for his country, a man who was going to deal with the [evil] ‘shinners’, a man who was determined to leave a legacy of greatness on history.

Climbdowns as abject as this only happen after a serious slap on the wrist has been delivered.

And to copper-fasten his total allegiance to his masters, Callan jumped on the bandwagon that is the establishment’s hatred of social media, a hatred second only to its loathing for Sinn Fein:

Here’s Sheridan’s comment:

‘Just the kind of hot take that characterises the swamplands of social media along with idiotic #notmyTaoiseach hashtags.’

And Callan’s servile parrot:

‘Social media…a place where the cringey hashtag ‘Not My Taoiseach’ trends with regularity.’

Ah yes, I think we can safely conclude – Callan has definitely been put back in his box.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Back In His Box (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

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