Alt Amháin - Single Article


airgead  glas  oráiste  corcra  buí  liath

Please email your comments to:

All fair comments, criticisms and praise will be posted!

Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Why RTÉ’s blatant bias made Martin McGuinness the real successor to Mary McAleese

RTÉ -Tubridy and O'Callaghan - new faces, same old tired agenda

A surprisingly large number of people contacted me to ask why I hadn’t reacted to events in Libya, with a smaller number asking my view of the ETA ceasefire. My problem was that I was struck dumb by the flagrant prejudice shown by RTÉ during the Irish presidential election and for some reason felt the need to speak to people at "home" in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) before I could write anything. To be sure that it wasn’t just me.

I found that even people who are not traditional Sinn Féin supporters were coruscating in their condemnation of RTÉ - all of the critics of the station that I spoke to are TV license payers.

Raymond McCartney IRA Hunger Striker – Human Being

Some time ago I wrote a blog in which I praised Miriam O'Callaghan after she interviewed two former IRA hunger strikers - Pat Sheehan and Raymond McCartney.
Here -

I contrasted the dignity and basic respect she had shown her guests with the priggish and utterly unprofessional behaviour of Ryan Tubridy who had interviewed Martin McGuinness just prior to that. I also pointed out that RTÉ's culture was one of extreme bias against Irish republicans. So in this instance, O’Callaghan’s approach in actually treating republicans as human beings had been refreshing and very much against the RTÉ grain.

Unfortunately this was a false dawn. In a much hyped television debate on RTÉ which involved all of the candidates, Miriam O’Callaghan asked the deputy first minister of the Northern Assembly and presidential candidate Martin McGuinness the following question:
“How do you square with your God, Martin McGuinness, the fact that you were involved in the murder of so many people?
The actual clip can be seen here

Miriam O'Callaghan will now go down in broadcasting history as yet another champion of RTÉ’s blatant bias against Irish Republicans in general and Sinn Féin in particular. For she must have known (as do her superiors who would have discussed her input beforehand) that in placing this loaded question to Martin McGuinness she was aligning both her own journalism and the policy of what is supposed to be our state broadcaster firmly alongside a failed British strategy of criminalising Irish republicans.

The dark days of Thatcher's clampdown

Quite simply, RTÉ has been seen once again to embed itself with the worst elements of Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher’s Dirty War period in our recent conflict by depicting Irish Republicans as beyond the pale of public decency and therefore ‘fair game’ for the dirtiest questions in its repertoire.

Margaret Thatcher correctly recognised that the only way to defeat Irish republicanism was to portray them as common criminals and, likewise, the only way RTÉ can justify the abandonment of its statutory obligation to be impartial is by portraying Martin McGuinness as a common criminal.

Imagine for a moment Miriam O'Callaghan haranguing Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore for being involved in the Official Republican Movement at a time when its armed wing was killing people and robbing banks. Or more globally, the next time Tony Blair appears on RTÉ will the Praetorian Guard of Dublin 4’s Citadel interrogate Blair and ask how he can reconcile his newly adopted Roman Catholic faith with his role in the mass murder of innocent women and children in Iraq?

Of course not. For RTÉ’s purpose, Martin McGiunness is a criminal, Gilmore and Blair are statesmen.

The irony is of course that the British have now accepted the legitimacy of Sinn Fein and the IRA’s position, as has the unionist community – without of course agreeing with it. Only RTÉ is still stuck in its partitionist, anti republican mind-set, which would be fine if RTÉ were a political party rather than a state broadcaster with obligations to its national audience and rules of impartiality.

In Donegal, I met three families who changed their minds and decided to give their first preference vote to Martin McGuinness, so outraged were they at what one husband and wife called O’Callaghan’s “dirty tricks”. This latter family have never had any huge grá for Sinn Féin.

Ireland beyond the Pale - Out of sight and out of RTÉ’s mind

All writers look for some image or central idea before they can begin to compose their thoughts. My speechlessness over RTÉ's continued attempt to rewrite Irish history was finally broken when I got that image - it is one of retreat.

On the long drive back from Donegal to Dublin, we heard the first hints on the radio that the present Irish government is going to attempt to renege on its solemn pledge to upgrade the Dublin road that runs between the Monaghan/Tyrone border at the southern end and the Derry Donegal border at the northern end. This road is not only used by the people of North and West Ulster but also those living in Sligo and Leitrim. A vast area in other words of the North and North West of Ireland.

On hearing this news, it struck me that the southern political establishment has been out of touch and in retreat for decades and that the outgoing president Mary McAleese and Martin McGuinness stand as symbols of that retreat, precisely because of the way they were vilified by the southern establishment but were embraced by people beyond the Pale.

Mary McAleese - her vilification in RTÉ has not been forgotten

Mary McAleese worked in RTÉ during the 1980s and her account of her treatment at the hands of an anti nationalist and pro partition station management and its Workers Party producer grade (who pompously and ridiculously called themselves Marxists) still shocks.

So blind and embittered was this faux bunch of workerites and anti Catholics that they refused to acknowledge the huge transformation that was happening in the country because of the Hunger Strikes in 1980/81. As a professional journalist, McAleese simply argued that it was incumbent upon RTÉ to reflect this phenomenon and for her "sins" she was “sent to Coventry”, blackballed and demonised.

That was RTÉ then and this is RTÉ now. Miriam O'Callaghan is simply a continuity member of that same faction, representing a constituency that has no real idea of peoples' lives and aspirations outside of their south Dublin mansions. That hundreds of thousands of her viewers and their families would be far more shocked at her performance as a supposed TV “moderator” than the career of Martin McGuinness as an IRA leader turned politician.

Margaret Thatcher Chief Censor and Warlord

Thatcher failed in her attempt to criminalise Irish republicans and, though they do not realise it, senior management and journalists at RTÉ have done irreparable damage to the station in the eyes of huge numbers of people across Ireland. RTÉ’s own policy of criminalisation, in other words has failed and I suspect that it will rue the day it contrived to allow Miriam O'Callaghan to reveal her partitionist slip so blatantly.

They may try to keep our roads or minds closed, rewrite or invent our history, but out there in the North and West the huge rivers still flow. We are a river flowing, we're a river flowing..

@Paul Larkin
Baile Átha Cliath
Mí na Samhna 2011

Iarscript - Uachtarán na hÉireann

Guímis gach rath agus beannacht ar Mhicheál D. Ó hUigínn, ár nUachtarán úr - go n-éirigh go geall leis, fear uasal, Gael agus sóisialaí.
No comments yet:


Comments must be approved before being published.

Meta Information:

Title: Why RTÉ’s blatant bias made Martin McGuinness the real successor to Mary McAleese
Date posted: 12 Nov '11 - 14:51
Filed under: General
Next entry:  » Cinneadh an Rialtais maidir leis an teanga/The Goverment's decision regarding our language
Previous entry:  « Take time out to salute Tomas Tranströmer - Poet and Hero

Baile - Home