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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 22, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

    The Man Who Can’t Stay Quiet

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Journos miss Michael McDowell for one very simple reason: he was a constant source of interesting copy. A colleague said McD “never had an unpublished thought” and, whatever one thought of his politics, he livened up the scene in news terms. Here is his latest pronouncement as reported in today’s paper:-

    McDowell criticises media on politicians
    Alan Regan
    Former Tánaiste and Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell yesterday severely criticised the media’s treatment of politicians. He also claimed that Gordon Brown was “bullied” into taking part in television election debates.
    He received a round of applause when he told the gathering, largely made up of lawyers and university lecturers, that the media treat politicians as a “sub-class barely deserving of an audience.”
    At the conference on constitutional reform, which was organised by the UCD school of law, Mr McDowell said that calls by the media for every donation a party receives to be released into the public domain are an attempt by them to secure power.
    “Do we want a society where every €100 or €200 contribution needs to be public? Most people don’t want their neighbours knowing they gave money to a party.
    “If you can’t afford posters to put up, how are you going to get ideas across?
    “They’ll only be heard after they’ve been interpreted by Denis O’Brien or Tony O’Reilly or Rupert Murdoch.”
    Mr McDowell was also critical of the media’s involvement in the recent British general election campaign, and, in particular, the television debates which were introduced for the first time in Britain this year.
    “Sky News were campaigning for the debate and they bullied Gordon Brown into taking part in this beauty contest. We saw Nick Clegg coming along during them and going ‘I’m not like these two, but don’t ask me why because it’s too complex.’
    “The media then looks at these, tells you who has won and on the basis of that who deserves to win the election.”
    Mr McDowell said that The Irish Times is “mildly pro-Labour”, and criticised RTÉ’s Morning Ireland for how it deals with politicians. “If you listen to it, politicians are cut across, interrupted and told their time is up, but journalists are listened to and respected. “I think we should look at the unintended consequences of political and constitutional reform. When you think of Justine McCarthy, what experience has she in standing for election? Politicians are better judges on these things than the commentariat.”
    Speaking on Seanad reform, he said that it was “inexcusable” that Enda Kenny would commit his party to supporting the abolition of the upper house without forewarning them of the public announcement.
    He criticised Fine Gael proposals to cut the number of TDs, saying that if it were cut to 100, then ministers and junior ministers would make up almost half of the government.

    • I notice he has no problem with the fact that RTE are biased towards featuring those pols who live or work close by? I still have a suspicion that his recent comments about the Seanad starting with his interview with the Sindo a few months back is in part about he thinking of making a pitch for one of the university Seanad seats.

    • XXfactor says:

      I’m sure he speaks very highly of you also..!

    • John O'Driscoll qua Kynos says:

      This is the gobshite who sold out Irish sovereignty to BUSHCO and the CIA and disingenuously used the medium of the Irish language to do so? Let him feck off and quit whinging big baldy crybabby.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      When I was in the Seanad Michael McDowell as Minister for Justice commenced a lot of his legislation in the Seanad. He used to spend a lot of time in the Seanad on his bills going through the bills with Senators, often accepted amendments from the opposition or made similar amendments and gave credit to the opposition Senators for his bringing forward his own similar amendment. He had genuine time for the Seanad and seemed to see it as a good place for his legislation to get thorough scrutiny which he actually welcomed. I think his comments on the Seanad come from a genuine belief in the value of a second chamber, although I doubt his plan is to run for it. I’d say he’d like to be back in politics though.

    • robespierre says:

      I can’t see McDowell coming back in any meaningful form either as a Judge or as an elected rep. His generation is moving on from the limelight.

      The Irish Times is more than mildly pro-labour.

      There is no shame in being aligned when it is a unionised house between the NUJ and goodness knows how many other unions but it ill befits a self-styled paper of record to be less than forthcoming in admitting it. The fact that the editor had a brief dalliance with the PD’s does not persuade me that she can counter balance pseudo-Marxist scribes like yourself Deaglán :-)

    • Yet, Joanna, he was a long time proponent of its abolition. It’s only a suspicion of mine at this stage that he is toying with running but I can’t help feeling that the next Seanad elections (if they are to be the last) will have more runners and riders than a horsey version of the Dublin City Marathon.

      As for his point about donations, ““Do we want a society where every €100 or €200 contribution needs to be public? Most people don’t want their neighbours knowing they gave money to a party.
      “If you can’t afford posters to put up, how are you going to get ideas across?”

      I’ve stood in an election using posters and I’m not sure what point was being put across by posters other than that I must have thought I was a devilish handsome fella altogether. In the US (land of the free and a place that McDowell’s politics appeared to suggest he had a lot of time for) people are actually registered as members of political parties or as Independents. Right there on the register and they’ve no problem at all with making public their donations down to the last cent.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      I think The Irish Times is mildly pro each of the parties and mildly anti each of the parties often all in the one day’s paper.

    • ruby slippers says:

      Now now kynos aka J O’D…musn’t mention the ‘h’ or should that be ‘b’ word… the follically challenged are a bit tetchy on that subject…

    • Kynos says:

      I might be a smartarse ruby and sometimes lose the run of meself in the process of being one but I never intend to hurt anyone’s feelings when it comes to anything that isn’t their fault that they can do little to nothing about or that hurts nobody but themslves. So apologies all road ever I offended in that way. Sincerely.

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