Tag Archives: Eamonn Farrell

From top: Dublin Housing Action Committee (DHAC) publication entitled ‘Crisis’, 1969; DHAC founding members, from left: Sean Dunne, Mairin deBurca and Eamonn Farrell  in Liberty Hall in Dublin on May Day

The following is a talk given by photojournalist Eamonn Farrell, Director of Rollingnews and former Dublin Housing Action Committee [DHAC] activist, on May Day to launch a photographic exhibition at Liberty Hall focusing on the housing crises in the 20th century and 21st century Dublin.

‘Ironically in today’s newspapers and on the air you could get all the latest stats on the housing crisis. Not pleasant reading. I am not going to bamboozle you with further figures.

But if you will allow me I will try and paint a picture of my experiences as a housing activist in 1960s Ireland

Like many people in the sixties, I moved to England. Not just in search of work. I already had a job as a junior barman. In those days to be licensed to pull pints of the black stuff you had to serve three years as an apprentice and then two as a junior barman.

Ireland then was still in the grip of a conservative Catholic Church. No divorce. No Contraception. Gay sex was illegal. Women had to give up work when they married. Young mothers were being sent to work in laundries and forced to give up their children born outside of marriage. Priests demanded the right to question and interfere in the nature of your activities in the marriage bedroom.

Yes, that was the Ireland in which the tyranny of British occupation was replaced by the tyranny of a church exercising the moral oppression of the population with the compliance of an independent, but supine state.

I had worked in Kirwan House, a pub right beside what was then UCD in Earlsfort Terrace. It was frequented by students who were starting to get the whiff of new philosophies from the European mainland and were reading works not only by Sartre but by Marx and Lenin as well.

Bob Dylan was strumming, Luke Kelly was singing and O’Donoghues pub was only around the corner. For a teenager from Finglas it was heady stuff. But not quite heady enough.

In London I bumped into one of the students I befriended in Dublin and he invited me to come along to meetings of the Irish Workers Group (IWG), headed by Gerry Lawless.

Lawless had ensured himself a place in legal history by being the first person to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights. The IWG would have been described as a Trotskyist group, which meant little to me at the time.

The IWG held meetings every Sunday at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park And on a particular Sunday, I was delegated to speak. Of course I was nervous and nearly vomiting into my tea in the nearby Lyons Cafe, but it was nothing to how sick I was when I discovered the speaker before me was a young curly-haired radical by the name of Eamon McCann!

Now if any of you have heard Eamon speak you will know his mouth cannot keep up with the speed at which his brain is shoveling words onto his whiplash tongue. Needless to say I was a disappointment to myself and my comrades. Always meant to check with Eamon were those curls natural or the result of a perm.

My first task after that miserable performance was to go to a certain hotel where there was an international conference taking place, and at night cut down both the American and Soviet flags.

I duly arrived Stanly knife in hand and shimmied up the pole to cut down the American flag first. As I cut through, which was not easy, as once up the pole, my legs were wrapped around it like a pole dancer, I had only a split second to allow both hands free to cut the rope.

Suddenly blood was squirting from my hand, the flag was still in place, and I dropped to the ground like a fireman on an emergency call.

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From top: A young Eamonn Farrell being arrested during a sit-down housing protest, College Green, Dublin in 1969; Mr. Farrell claimed that the garda inspector who is about to be tripped by him, had moments earlier punched him in the stomach; Eamonn today

Eamon Farrell, Editor of RollingNews.ie and former Secretary of the Dublin Housing Action Committee DHAC,is launching a photographic exhibition on the housing crisis, tonight at 7.30pm in Liberty Hall.

Eamonn will also be speaking on his experience as an activist with the DHAC, including sit down protests and occupation of vacant properties, and as a journalist covering last year’s housing protests in Dublin.

The exhibition is a part of the 2019 May Fest events which starts of with the traditional May Day Parade from Parnell Square at 7.00pm to Liberty Hall.

Eamonn was a founding member of the Socialist Party of Ireland (SPI), Socialists Against Nationalism and the Divorce Action Group (DAG).

He ceased his political activities with the demise of the SPI and entered journalism, becoming picture editor of the Sunday Tribune and Editor of RollingNews.ie photo agency.

The Dublin Housing Uprising exhibition (Facebook)

Rollingnews

From top: Robert Ballagh; an image from Eamonn Farrell’s Elements of Nature Project; Elizabeth Cope; Jason Dunne; Eamonn with Robert Ballagh and Rachel Ballagh; nude with giraffe by Elizabeth Cope

Gulp.

Last night.

Crawford Gallery, Cork.

The launch of The Naked Truth: The Nude in Irish Art with 80 flesh-baring works by 30 Irish artists.

From medieval Sheela-na-Gigs to artfully taken photographs, the exhibition, which opens to the public today, includes work from Francis Bacon, Jason Dunne, Robert Ballagh, Elizabeth Cope and photographer Eamonn Farrell, a friend of the ‘sheet and owner of Rollingnews and Photocall Ireland photo agencies

Showing ALL at the Crawford until October 13.

The Naked Truth: The Nude In Irish Life

 Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

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From top: Dessie O’Malley and Charlie Bird in 1985; Charlie Bird and Eamonn Farrell last night with a portrait of Haughey; Eamonn Farrell at the Hunt Museum

Last night.

The Hunt Museum, Limerick.

Charlie Bird launches an exhibition of photos from the career of Charles Haughey and his Limerick nemesis Dessie O’Malley by veteran photographer Eamonn Farrell, who runs the Rollingnews picture agency and is long term friend of the ‘sheet.

Charles Haughey: Power, Politics, Public Image And Desmond O’Malley runs until November 20.

Eamonn Farrell at the Hunt Museum

Pics: Eamonn Farrell, Rollingnews

 

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Yesterday.

Dame Court Dublin 2

[Rollingnews and Photocall Ireland photo agency boss] Eamonn Farrell (left) hands over a disk, “under protest”, containing over 300 images after a warrant was presented by Garda Inspector Des McTiernan (right), of Store Street. Station.

The order was for the seizure of images taken during the Pegida rally on O’Connell St. Dublin on February 6.

An agency representative said:

This was the fifth time gardai have demanded images from the agency and the second time a warrant has been excecuted. Mr Farrell has previously objected to such demands, stating that it was putting journalist into a position  where they are being regarded in certain quarters as ‘the eyes and ears of the State’ and as a result putting their safety at risk and making it very difficult for them to carry out their functions as independent objective journalists.

More as we get it.

Rollingnews

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From top: Charlie and Eamonn; from left: daughter Leah Farrell, Eamonn Farrell and son Leon Farrell

The opening of ‘Power, Politics & Public Image‘ in the Gallery of Photography, Temple Bar, Dublin.

An exhibition of photographs of Charles Haughey by Eamonn Farrell, the boss editor of RollingNews.ie/PhotocallIreland [The family-run team team responsible for many of the photos on the ‘sheet].

Eamonn’s show covers the period from 1982 to “just after Haughey’s retirement in 1992” and is perfect for a Halloween visit. It forms part of the activities for the 30th Anniversary of the creation of Temple Bar (fair play, in fairness) and will run for three weeks.

Power Politics & Public Image (Gallery of Photography)

(RollingNews.ie)

-4Eamonn Farrell at the Photocall Ireland agency in Dublin today

Further to this.

Eamonn Farrell, of Photocall Ireland went on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning  to discuss the recent Garda seizure of photos from his agency of Irish Water protests.

They were joined by retired Garda Detective Chief Superintendent John O’Brien.

Grab a strong tay.

Sean O’Rourke: “The independence of photographers is being threatened by Garda demands to hand over videos and photographs of protests and demonstrations. That’s the strong view of the photographer and editor of Photocall Ireland Eamonn Farrell… Eamon , you’re a very experienced photographer, you’ve I think, your experience goes back as far as the riots outside the British Embassy in the early 80s, the H-Block riots, what’s been happening in your offices lately?”

Eamonn Farrell: “Well, over the last couple of years there’s been a change, as far as I’m concerned, in the attitude of the guards insofar as we have had several demands made to have access to our digital material, okay? And on the first two occasions and on the last occasions we refused to do this, pointing out to the guards the reasons for it, unless a warrant was produced. On the first two occasions no warrant was produced and nothing happened, on this occasion they came with a warrant and they demanded that material our photographer had taken at a particular event outside the Department of Justice would be produced to them.”

O’Rourke: “Was that a protest a regular protest?”

Farrell: “It was a protest outise the Department of Justice which will be in court in a couple of weeks time so actually I can’t speak too much about the actual detail of it.”

O’Rourke: “In your experience is this a totally new development then?”

Farrell: “It’s a new development for us but I believe and I am told, and how true it is I can’t vouch for myself, that it has been going on for quite a while but because the Gardai knew that we were very reluctant to give over material they went to other people in the first instance and got that material from other people who didn’t demand warrants.”

O’Rourke: “And for instance the Love Ulster March in Dublin that was a big event which turned violent, were you approached on that occasion?”

Farrell: “We were approached in relation to that one and we were approached in relation to the one in relation to the Queen’s visit and on this last one which was a very very small protest involving maybe 5 people and there were 5 Gardai present and as the NUJ said in its statement yesterday there are recording cameras outside the Department of Justice so they would have evidence there themselves.”

O’Rourke: “John O’Brien, what justification is there for this move by the Gardai?”

John O’Brien: “Well firstly let me say that I would empathise with Eamonn in terms of any, you know, danger to himself as he would see it and any personal risks which would arise from it. But the key question which arises is, is material gathered in the public space privileged material, you know, is it something that by definition should not be disclosed or is the property of, I mean I’m aware that from the commercial part of this that Eamonn and his company will sell his material on broadcasters like RTE or the media, so in essence, there’s nothing terribly precious about the material, it’s different from somebody who is a pencil journalist or someone who is taking you know, an editorial line, the image exists anyway, but you know, there are three kinds of principles which inform this thing which happens within the context which I would call the rule of law.
The first thing is legality, is what the guards are doing, is is it legal and the short answer is yes, it is it is legal. The other one is proportionality and necessity, you know, is it over the top to do it this way, eh, and excuse me, it meets both of those tests so there’s no real issue in respect of that, ias a matter of fact there would be an obligation and there is an obligation in court to produce the best evidence which means the original evidence. Now I know Eamonn is making the point, and I’ve read his article, very carefully and it’s a well balanced article, and I think his concerns are real, but I think maybe and no disrespect, he’s probably being a little bit precious in terms of this particular category, it’s not an assault on journalistic privilege… this is material which is available, for example, this morning, in relation to the incident, can someone say that there’s a real point of principle that CCTV footage of this…”

O’Rourke: “Ah, that’s an entirely different thing.”

O’Brien: “No it’s not, because somebody owns that information.”

Farrell: “Can I say, John, that we are not walking talking machines that we cover these events and record the visual images from the point of view of being active journalists, our job is to record what we see and by the way we do edit our material and the material that the guards were looking for was not the material we had already put up on our own website and issued to the media, it was the material we had decided not to make public, not to put in the public domain because that material can be misinterpreted, the material we put out is the the material we had edited and were happy that from a journalistic point of view is a fair reflection of what happened. The position now is that the guards are now in possession of material that we don’t know does reflect what happened, does it misinterpret what happened…”

O’Rourke: “But sure that’s the next step, you might have to go into court and give evidence about what happened.”

Farrell: “Absolutely, but there’s another point, the guards now have material that they may produce in court that we don’t know, we don’t know if it’s been manipulated, if it has been retouched, how real is it in relation to the original images that were taken because we’re going to be presented with images we have not produced ourselves…”

O’Brien: “Eamonn, I’m going to give you the benefit of integrity now because that’s where your professional background is, I think we should afford that to the guards as well that they have the same benefit of integrity, now where I come from, edited material is far more suspect that unedited material because obviously we can cut and paste…”

Farrell: “And crop and do all sorts of things.”

O’Brien: “Incidentally there is a legal framework for this, it can only happen if a specified offence has taken place, it is not a trawl for information, it is not intelligence gathering, it deals specifically with when a warrant has issued that an offence or a suspected offence has taken place, so I think that’s the key point it actually relates to a specified offence.”

Farrell: “But sure, but hold on a second John, you can’t be asking us, who will be covering four events of this nature probably every week, you can’t be asking us to be the eyes and ears of the Gardai, you cannot be asking us when you know yourself that the Gardai have been issued with the newest in technology in relation to recording cameras, you can’t be asking us to be the eyes and ears and put our photographers in dangers and also damage journalistic privilege?”

O’Brien: “Hold on a minute now, hold on a minute, your photographers are voluntary agents they’re there in a voluntary capacity, when a guard, when a guard is investigating an incident or a crime they have no option but to do it now and I think you, like other events, you would risk assess your own people to see were you putting them in danger and there’s an obligation on you now, let me ask you another question…”

Farrell: “Hold on, let me deal with that point.”

O’Brien: “Let me ask you another question are there any circumstances where you would think it was appropriate to disclose the information you had to the Gardai or to other persons?”

Farrell: “Well if you go back to the Supreme Court judgment which was issued last year in relation to the Irish Times, the Supreme Court has upheld journalistic privilege but they have said its not absolute, and I don’t believe it’s absolute, it depends on what he situation is and certainly demonstrations and protests by the general population are not incidents in which you are justified in asking us to provide you with material to substantiate the charges that you’re going to bring against people.”

O’Brien: “There’s an absolute legal obligation under the Criminal Justice Act to cover the contingency exactly, so it’s not a question of somebody hypothetically arguing the case, there’s a perfect set of legal circumstances which allow this to happen.”

O’Rourke: “Yes but potentially, and maybe more than potentially, you’re putting people like Eamonn at serious risk in dangerous situations if the people taking part in them and liable to turn violent know as a result of practices that may build up these photographers may be hauled into court, their material taken from them and they may be asked to give evidence, surely this puts people like Eamonn at risk?”

O’Brien: “No, but I think there’s a more serious and broader question here, that if I’m a journalist and I’m employed by an organisation, you have an obligation as my employer to say you’re putting me in a place of danger where you shouldn’t put me…”

O’Rourke: “But exactly, John.”

Farrell: “There’d be no media present and what would happen in that situation is you’d have the guards recording the protestors and the protestors recording the guards and no objective journalists doing their job in the middle to record what happened.”

O’Brien: “Now, now, hold on, hold on, hold on. Look the camera is objective you run your video it sees what happens it;s not, it’s not mutated by me holding it or you holding it so if in other words it’s Sean O’Rourke bopping someone over the head your camera records the same thing as mine.

Farrell: “No, it doesn’t record both sides, John, you will be recording one side ,you will be showing gardai being attacked by protestors, the protestors will be showing gardai being attacked, no the opposite. Now my job is to show both sides…”

O’Brien: “My job as a police officer is to investigate it with both sides in mind but I’m really appalled at the suggestion in which there are no circumstances in which you would consider releasing information.”

Farrell: “I never said that.”

O’Brien: “You mentioned the Supreme Court, that related to source information.”

Farrell: “I never said that. What I am saying is that the material we put out to the media and put up on our own website is the material we have edited and we are happy reflects exactly what happened on the day and gives a true reflection of both sides.”

O’Rourke: “Can I ask you a question, Eamonn. Let’s just say you found yourself in the middle of a crime scene, let’s say you happened to record a shooting, someone was murdered, let’s say the Love-Hate scenario and let’s say it wasn’t intended you would be there, you just happened to capture it in the middle of O’Connell Street or whatever, what obligation would you see as being on yourself or a colleague to help with the Gardai investigation or the solving of that crime?”

Farrell: “Well, in the first incidence I suppose I have photographed at least 50 bodies of people who have been murdered I haven’t recorded an actual situation of a person being murdered, yet in those circumstances obviously as far as I’m concerned we’re taking about a totally different situation and we would reflect on the demands being made to us by the Gardai and I am sure that we would co-operate but we’re talking about a totally different situation where we’re now being asked to be eyes and ears of Gardai in every situation that’s going on in relation to protests. Now it’s interesting that…”

O’Brien: “No, no, no I appreciate what you’re saying, but look it, my position as a citizen as well as a former Garda, is that you can’t be neutral in terms of a crime being committed, you don’t have you don’t have a privileged position of neutrality here.”

Farrell: “Sorry, we’re observers, John, that’s all, observers.”

O’Brien: “I fully…”

Farrell: “Observers.”

O’Brien: “You’re a citizen of this country, the same as every one else, you don’t have a different status than when you’re present on the side of the road…”

Farrell: “Well, the Supreme Court says different, sorry.”

O’Brien: “That’s in relation to sources, which is an entirely different thing.”

Farrell: “No it’s not, it’s in relation to material.”

O’Rourke: “The parallel, surely John, would be your capacity to gather the information, if that’s compromised then you’re not going to have it to disseminate to the public.”

O’Brien: “It’s a relevant question, if Eamonn is going to be his own self-censor so that he decides what the public would see and what the courts would see…”

O’Rourke: “But that would be normal editorial judgment.”

O’Brien: “No, but in terms of a court proceedings it wouldn’t be normal editorial judgment because there is an obligation on the guards to produce the best evidence and part of the investigation process is to source that information, if Eamon holds it or John O’ Brien holds it.”


O’Rourke:
“And would you expect Eamon to prove it in court to say this was a picture or these were pictures I took at the particular event or on a particular date, now not referring to any specific case, would you think would his obligation extends that far?”


O’Brien:
“I said at the start that if the State were to use a witness that was producing critical information or evidence that was likely to expose them to danger, then the State has a high order of duty to protect that individual and it has to happen under controlled circumstances, there’s no question that he should be cut loose and left on his own.”


Farrell:
“But sorry, two of our staff are now being called to give evidence in this particular case so therefore the people who are now being charged will view them as people who are helping the guards, when in fact their job should just be as objective journalists recording it. What you’re looking for is access to our digital notebooks, the same as a reporter’s notebook, you are looking for access to that.”


O’Brien:
“No it is totally, it’s a totally different set of circumstances. I’m still appalled at the idea that that if a crime has been committed, as Sean put to you a few minutes ago, you would equivocate on whether or not that information should be presented or not.”


Farrell:
“I’m not equivocating, sorry.”


O’Rourke:
“Mary, a listener, says, why don’t the Gardai send in their own photographer if they want information on an event?”


O’Brien:
“Of course they do, but you take the event like one that’s very prominent in the media where it might be a spontaneous event, you don’t necessary have every camera, you don’t necessarily have people wearing body cameras so I would agree totally if guards can glen information from their own resources and that’s reasonable then they should do it, that is not going to be the case with spontaneous combustion…”


Farrell:
“Just to make this point, if we hadn’t sent a photo-journalist along to that event you wouldn’t have the evidence that you’re looking to get from us now and the reality is if we go along your route we’re not going to be sending our journalists along to record events and therefore you’ll be faced with a situation whereby journalistic privilege will be affected.”

O’Brien: “Until hell freezes over journalists will be going to cover events, I think we can all be pretty sure of that one.”

O’Rourke: “OK, we’ll leave it there, thanks for coming in, John O’Brien, retired police superintendent and police and security expert, also Eamonn Farrell of Photocall Ireland.”

Listen in full here

Previously: Journalism And The State

90364719-1c2bf7801ff9c4d7cec1745672bed6bf8_400x400Eamonn Farrell and Irish Water protests (above) before Christmas

Eamonn Farrell is a former photo-editor of the Sunday Tribune and founder and editor of Photocall Ireland, the largest editorial photographic agency in Ireland.

He has covered all the major social issues in Ireland since 1980, including the H-Block Riots, Peace Process, Divorce, Contraception and Abortion Campaigns.

Recently his agency has extensively followed the Irish Water protests.

Eamonn writes:

As journalists, we are all deeply aware of the challenges facing us and the media in general, as a result of the digital revolution. Like previous unintended consequences resulting from technological developments i.e. the containerization of Dublin Port, and the demise of dock workers, we have to find ways to turn these events to our advantage.

However there is another serious challenge facing us, which has received very little attention and which seriously threatens our independence as a profession.

This is attempts by the Gardai, representing the State, to use journalists and in particular those working in the photographic/video/film arena as an extension of their eyes and ears.

The attempt to force journalists by default, to become agents of the state at protests and demonstrations is not only a threat to our independence and objectivity, but also to our safety and our reputations.

The agency which I represent and work for Photocall ireland has a long tradition of objectively covering events of political, social and environmental importance.

Our professional duty during such coverage, is to represent the public by objectively visually recording what we see, without fear or favour. In doing so we have often suffered the displeasure of both protestors and gardai, but carried on in the knowledge that despite our own individual opinions, we recorded events as they unfolded before us.

As suppliers of media content, we would of course have no or very little say in what imagery was eventually used by the publications or broadcasters we served.

This week our office was visited by two gardai with a summons for two of our staff to appear in a court case which the gardai were taking against a protestor or protesters involved in an event outside the Department of Justice last year, which one of our photojournalists covered.

One summons was for the journalist and the other for the office manager who had downloaded the images onto a CD for the gardai.

So why had we cooperated with the gardai? Well actually we hadn’t. We were handing copies of the images over after refusing to do so unless a warrant was produced. Eventually a warrant was procured and the images were handed over under protest and duress.

This was the third time images were demanded from various events, the third time we refused and the first time a warrant was served and images given over.

I have reason to believe we may be the only media organisation which refused each time we were asked, but maybe I am wrong. Why did we refuse to “help the gardai”. Well because of the following:

1. That is not our professional role.

2. The gardai have the means and the ability to make their own recordings.

3. To become the perceived ‘Eyes and Ears’ of the gardai at protests and demonstrations and marches undermines our ability to carry out our work.
What next? A request for visuals from meetings and briefings behind closed doors!

5. Our journalists already suffer enough intimidation and threats from paramilitaries, gangsters, militants and some members of the public, while trying to carry out their work, without being put in added danger by the knowledge that whatever we record is available on demand by representatives of the state.

6. Because it is bad for democracy if the Fourth Estate ceases to be independent or seen to be independent of the other powerful arms of state. Its independence in other respects is already a topic of debate and that is as it should be. It is now important that this issue of the state through the gardai, demanding that journalists work in a supporting role to it, should also become a matter of debate among journalists, politicians and the public.

Hunger Strikes 1981

Hunger Strikes 1981

The above photograph [click to enlarge] of a confrontation between Hunger Strike marchers and the gardai at the British embassy in 1981 and the photograph (top) of journalists being threatened by baton waving gardai at the same event is a case in point.

My duty as a journalist covering the event was to record whatever I saw. Gardai beating up protesters or protesters beating up gardai, it did not matter.

As a journalist the freedom to remain objective and independent is critical to my work and any attempt to interfere with it, is an attack on democracy.

Eamonn Farrell

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SPLUTTER!

The Black Castle, Co Wicklow

Bellybutton baring US model Jace Lisa taking part in photographer Eamonn Farrell’s controversial Elements of Nature project which began in 2009 and usually involves artistically shot nude women and breathtaking Irish scenery.

FIGHT!

Previously: Eamonn And The Women

Between A Rock And A Soft Place

(Eamonn Farrell)