Illustration by Ted Slampyak.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Minister for Health Simon Harris at a press briefing on Easter Sunday in Government Buildings
Via Michael Smith, editor of Village magazine [full article at link below]:
Those who predicted swamped ICUs, scandalous shortages of equipment and overflowing morgues in Ireland were utterly wrong. If you haven’t realised that, you’re not following.
The Irish Times, Irish Independent, RTÉ and other media in Ireland have failed their democratic duty to keep the public aware of the significance of the evolving pattern of Coronavirus cases in Ireland over the last three weeks.
There may indeed be “the darkest days ahead” as the Taoiseach intoned, to media head-nodding, on Easter Sunday, but there is no evidence for it.
I am not saying this to be provocative but because it is the truth.
There is a pattern of reported cases, it is just that the media have not followed it, or conveyed what the pattern indicates as the probable outcome of at least the first wave of Coronavirus cases and deaths in Ireland.
Their job was not to convey this as a certainty but as the probability, based on the curves – the data.
Instead they have plied, and continue hour after hour to ply, pictures of improvised morgues, invitations to submit stories about deceased love ones, pieces about our non-existent devastating shortages of PPE and ventilators, and of rockstars still organising emergency imports of it, and po-faced pieces about how funerals, so central of course to Irish life, will never be the same again….
…The Department of Health oversaw a system underprepared for a pandemic and then specifically underestimated the dangers from China – on 20 February the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan ineptly faced a camera and said: “We don’t expect to see anything more than individual cases occurring that we believe we’ll be well-positioned to manage within the next couple of months”.
Within a few weeks, however, the official view had flipped the other way and by 8 March Paul Reid, CEO of the Health Service Executive (HSE), was endorsing a report in the Business Post which quoted the health authorities massively overestimating cases.
The lead story in that newspaper on that day five weeks ago predicted 1.9 million infected cases for Ireland which would have implied 68,000 deaths, since the death rate given by the WHO at the time was 3.4%.
The report did not say there “might” or “would probably” be 1.9 million cases.
Its best-selling headline on March 8, a date on which there had been no deaths in Ireland, was “Irish health authorities predict 1.9m people will fall ill with coronavirus”; the subheadline was “Up to 50 per cent of cases projected in a three-week period, while the new figures raise fears of intense pressure on health service”. The premise was that we would see 30% daily increases in cases. The smaller print of the report clarified that the prognosis depended on there being no lockdown measures….[more at link below]
Minister for Social protection Regina Dopherty and her media advisor Alex Connolly
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty was able to land a pay deal for her spin doctor that breaches the Government’s own cap on salaries for special advisers.
Ms Doherty’s media adviser Alex Connolly was appointed last October on a salary of €107,109 – which is €6,000 more than the salary restriction that is in place for Cabinet ministers’ special advisers…
…Mr Connolly earns over €20,000 more than the average salary of press and media advisers for other ministers – which stands at around €86,000….
Mr Connolly has been replaced at Fáilte Ireland by Suzanne Coogan, who advised Denis Naughten when he was communications minister…
Behold: the six fastest rotating disk galaxies known to man. But why? To wit:
If you estimated each spiral‘s mass by how much light it emits, their fast rotations should break them apart. The leading hypothesis as to why these galaxies don’t break apart is dark matter — mass so dark we can’t see it. But these galaxies are even out-spinning this break-up limit […] It is therefore further hypothesized that their dark matter halos are so massive — and their spins so fast — that it is harder for them to form stars than regular spirals. If so, then these galaxies may be among the most massive spirals possible. Further study of surprising super-spirals like these will continue, likely including observations taken by NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for launch in 2021.
A 12-year-old girl from Co Mayo has challenged the Taoiseach on the Government’s National Broadband Plan. Aoibheann Mangan approached Leo Varadkar at the opening of #Inspirefest. Until recently, Aoibheann has been going to a Tesco car park to access WiFi for school projects etc pic.twitter.com/cCk2nO6Mcu
— Philip Bromwell (@philipbromwell) May 16, 2019
She told the Taoiseach that broadband provision in rural Ireland remained a “big problem” and she asked him how long people are going to have to wait. “It’s not fair that people in Dublin get access to everything. Everyone should have those opportunities,” she said.
*stares into abyss*
Hello spin doctors. Story with this *rural #broadband* thing.
1 Some bits of this famously antediluvian *rural Ireland* have high speed broadband already.
2 Some areas of shiny speedy Dublin have worse broadband than we have.
— Annie West (@anniewestdotcom) May 9, 2019
Last night: Lacking Fibre
Previously: The Plan: Save Denis
All the news that’s fit to print.
Feather-light political coverage from RTÉ and the Irish Independent suggesting junk food, as opposed to lack of empathy, is Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s ‘downfall’.
Spinning classes, amirite.
From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: Marketing and media spend for 2018
Leo Varadkar’s department ran up a bill of €1,347,720 in 2018 covering the communications cost of various campaigns.
…[the] sum is more than 18 times the €71,365 the department spent promoting Government campaigns in 2017.
The gulf in advertising spending is even greater when compared to the €10,628 spent in 2016, under Enda Kenny’s watch. In Leo’s first full year at the helm the department the cost has grown to more than 126 times that amount.
Former presidential candidates Peter Casey, Liadh Ni Riada, Joan Freeman and Gavin Duffy on Claire Byrne Live for a debate during the presidential campaign
In The Sunday Independent.
Gene Kerrigan reflected on the advice Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, gave to the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald – about how she should wag her finger left to right while delivering a certain section of a speech she prepared for Ms Fitzgerald.
He also reflected on the comments made by Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton in his report on the Disclosures Tribunal in which he said that it’s a “hideous development in Irish public life” that public life is now so dominated by spin and meaningless public relations speak.
Mr Kerrigan also wrote:
Years ago on RTE, Pat Kenny pioneered the gimmick of rapid-fire “debate”, in which the guests made a few remarks, then Kenny moved from one member of the audience to another, lingering just long enough for the speaker to convey half a thought. Claire Byrne now has that franchise on RTE.
In the election and referendum debates, speakers score points and the specially selected audience applauds. It’s not only what you say that matters, it’s bringing in supporters with flinty palms that will make the most noise.
Even the title of Kenny’s original show, Frontline, suggested battle. And this is the dominant format.
Get rid of the audience. Debates are not talent shows.
Untruths and soft interviews abounded during the Presidential debates. You could say what you like, and the best the other side could do was deny, deny, deny – which in itself creates an image of having something to hide.
Live debates encourage lies.
Record the debates. Leave sufficient time between the debate and the broadcast for journalists to fact-check the claims of the speakers.
Then, at the end of the broadcast, spell out the programme’s researched conclusions about contentious assertions. That would stop the spoofing.
And it would relieve the programmes of the burden – which doesn’t seem to worry them – of being a transmission belt for lies.