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  • RTE: A Station in the Front Line

    March 12, 2012 @ 11:02 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    RTE is going through its most difficult period in editorial terms since the start of the Troubles. Remember the sacking of the Authority and the jail sentence imposed on Kevin O’Kelly?

    At least on this occasion, there is no talk of anybody being put behind bars – well not yet! Personally, I don’t believe in lecturing journalists in other media organisations – or indeed my own – about standards.

    But there has been a problem with The Frontline since its inception. One was never comfortable with the audience - a fairly typical example was the recent programe with Minister of State Ciaran Cannon which was the subject of the following blogpost.

    I wrote at the time that such was the array of opinion against Cannon that one was reminded of a crowd ganging-up on a youngster in a schoolyard. I hardly know the man and would not necessarily agree with him on any subject whatsoever, but he kept his cool remarkably well.

    I also wrote that it was a disturbing sight. Others I meet in and around Leinster House have expressed the view that The Frontline was entering a new zone for Irish television – more akin to the Jerry Springer Show than traditional current affairs television.

    Frankly, I have never watched more than a few minutes of  Jerry Springer so I am not qualified to comment on the comparison. But the RTE production did seem to be taking a strongly-populist approach where the Government panellists were likely to become very isolated targets.

    Good, hard, robust criticism is an essential feature of democracy and when politicians go for election they can’t expect to be treated with kid-gloves. But there also needs to be balance and fairness.

    It is at least arguable that Sean Gallagher would be President of Ireland today, were it not for The Frontline. I have it on good authority from inside the Michael D. Higgins campaign that all seemed lost the weekend before the election.

    But one Tweet changed everything. Or rather the way the Tweet was received and broadcast, without being verified, and the failure to report the Sinn Fein disavowal of same brought Gallagher down.

    Some folk say  it was good for the country that Gallagher was undone, by fair means or foul, that there were too many question-marks over him, etc. The problem with this view is that it is a denial of democracy.

    Had Gallagher made it to the Park and then turned out to be entirely unsuitable – well, there are ways of dealing with that in the Constitution.

    RTE is a major national asset but it has its flaws. There is a coarseness in some of the comedy output that it is at times a cause of dismay. A different version of the same mentality was in evidence in the way Sean Gallagher was treated.

    Let’s hope this worthy broadcasting institution can come through this crisis, weather the storm and that normal service can be resumed, with lessons learnt and taken to heart.  

    Interestingly, this is not the first time a politician was brought down by a Tweet, except that in the case of Willie O’Dea, the message sent out by Dan Boyle was genuine. Twitter rules the political landscape, it would seem.

  • Green jobs that are not very smart

    March 5, 2010 @ 11:36 am | by Harry McGee

    The Green Party, its chairman Senator Dan Boyle argued this week, is not about individuals and personalities, rather about policies.

     

    The phrase is a compelling one and the thinking behind it may be laudable. Indeed, it has been common currency among Green members for almost three decades, ever since the Irish ecological and green movement came into being in the early 1980s.

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  • Willie’s ouster: Was it a twick or Tweet?

    February 19, 2010 @ 11:28 am | by Harry McGee

    There will be a lot of commentary about how Dan Boyle’s two blogs on his Twitter site on Wednesday night did for Willie O’Dea. Though new media enthusiasts will always point trimphantly to how some miracle was achieved Facebook or Twitter or whatever, all it is is  a pretty basic form of communication, with its own benefits but also with its own limits.

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  • Up in the Polls and Up in the Air

    February 1, 2010 @ 12:05 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The latest Sunday Business Post poll as well as the last poll in The Irish Times show a modest revival in Fianna Fail’s standing with the public. Clearly they will be hoping to hang in for as long as possible and stave off the general election until they are in a position to win or at least emerge with only minimal damage. (more…)

  • Latest Poll . . . Joe Higgins, MEP?

    May 30, 2009 @ 1:37 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Campaigns matter. I always cite the example of John Major running for re-election as British Prime Minister in 1992. Almost universally written-off, he famously got out his soapbox and went on the hustings in a successful fight to stay in power.

    joe-higgins.jpg

    Well if they won’t have me in Leinster House, I’ll bloody go to Strasbourg (Photograph by Frank Miller) (more…)

  • Greens want to become the carnivores of Irish politics

    May 20, 2009 @ 9:53 am | by Harry McGee

    Well it looks like the dirty tricks of the property boom didn’t entirely pass the Greens by.

    For what we saw unravel over the past couple of days was a delicious example of adroit political gazumping.

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  • Why Machiavelli is Reading the Greens

    May 18, 2009 @ 12:01 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Having escaped the odium heaped on their Fianna Fáil partners for so long, public opinion has finally caught up with the Greens. The latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi ratings for the party are abysmal.

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     Senator Dan Boyle: anxious to avoid the political wilderness (Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons )

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  • Cute hoorism and the public purse

    January 19, 2009 @ 10:25 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The penny is beginning to drop. We have a debate about the excessive number of junior ministers and the plethora of (often very loquacious) committees in the Oireachtas. Now I see Enda Kenny is talking of a cut in the number of TDs. Can it be that the political system is reconnecting with the people at last? (more…)


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