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You think it’s over? It’s not over… February 25, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Those of us who have logged onto Déirdre de Búrca’s website this last day or two were not entirely surprised to see her working away at keeping the pot boiling… not entirely. Somewhat surprised. But… not entirely.

Now she’s referencing politics.ie posts… and articles from the Irish Times.

I’m wracking my brains to think of a similar case where an Irish politician who resigned so publicly attempted to continue to keep the issue of the resignation in the public mind. To – as it were, and to paraphrase the old jibe about the Labour Party 1983 Election Manifesto being the longest suicide note in history, communicate the longest resignation note in Irish politics. So long it has been arriving in installments.

I can’t think of one. In fact I can’t think of one in the UK or further afield either. It’s a sort of l’esprit de l’escalier writ largish.

This seems to be something that could only happen in a period where the means of communication were readily available to all and sundry. A politician, or a former politician, waging a sort of low intensity net conflict against her former colleagues.

But it also points up some of the shallowness of that communication – and I don’t exempt the CLR from this analysis one bit.

There is something about having a public platform, unlike any other in history, the fact that it can be accessed by anyone with a computer connection, that can paradoxically lead to a disconnect. It’s a sort of cosmetic levelling effect in a sense. I’d put it this way. The ubiquity of it, that it can be accessed almost anywhere on many different forms of devices from hand held ones to desktops to televisions. The fact that the format is so similar, albeit not uniform – your Irish Times appears in precisely the same rectangular space as A.N.Other Blog – means that some people may begin to believe that their words assume an equal level of truth or veracity – a belief which is, when one thinks about it for any length of time, absurd.

It can be true – perhaps. But it all depends. And while I know this is hugely self-evident, one of the reasons we invest a slightly greater degree of legitimacy in the Irish Times (I know, I know, caveats apply when it comes to commentary) is that they operate more or less – and sometimes less, as somewhat objective third parties (I know, I know, caveats also apply as regards that!). Straight from the horses mouth doesn’t have that cachet. It can’t unless the evidence is unequivocal. And when it gets into complex ‘she said, he said’ back and forths…

Moreover that very similarity of format means that much that is written is unread. There’s too much of it. It doesn’t, simply by being online, have any greater legitimacy, nor does being on-line accord it a dignity it would not have in other circumstances. I don’t, however, want to say that it is entirely trivial. Within niche groups we afford greater or lesser importance to specific sites. But even there most of us are aware of how subjective, how rooted in commentary they are. That’s no bad thing. Commentary provides the emotional charge that can inform dry facts. And it can engage and infuse something like ‘trust’ which comes from a relationship we develop with sites. But, can anyone seriously contend that there are many sites run by politicians which they have developed such a relationship with?

Nor, and this is where I think the current de Búrca postings are telling, does referencing other sources – even supposedly more credible ones – per se strengthen an argument (and it could be that this shift indicates the well is dry in terms of further interesting material).

But, and here’s a further paradox, chances are the more she continues, at least in the short term, that self-same media will pick up on her words – again assuming she has more pointed and intriguing material to offer. Because the media wants something to write about.

Where will this sorry tale end – she asks?

Where indeed?

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Comments»

1. smiffy - February 25, 2010

I hadn’t seen DDB’s website before reading your post, but looking at it now it really seems bizarre, and not a little pathetic. The point about the levelling effect of the internet is a very good one. That same phenomenon might also have the effect of reinforcing self-delusion on the part of someone like DDB. If, as a parliamentary spokesperson, you’re used to seeing your every utterance posted on the internet through your party’s press office, and taken seriously (well, to a point) by the media. Why therefore should not your thoughts on politics be given equal consideration after you vacate the party position – it’s the same old internet, after all.

The problem, as can be seen on DDB’s site, is that unless you actually hold an official position, everything you put up about yourself – the ‘Deirdre de Burca announced yesterday’ syndrome – simply looks like obsessive ego-stroking.

What’s particularly notable about the site is that she can spend time chipping away at the Green Party, and Gormley in particular, over the course of a week, but she couldn’t even find the time to amend her bio, which still states:

“Déirdre is currently a member of the Green Party’s Parliamentary Party and is also a very active member of Seanad Éireann. She is her party’s spokesperson on European Affairs, Health & Children, Defence and the Gaeltacht. She has played a prominent role in explaining the shift in her party’s thinking in relation to Europe which was reflected in the vote by 63% of the Green Party membership in January 2007 to support the Lisbon Treaty.”

Finally, and at the risk of harping on about the same point, that politics.ie post she quotes is very telling. Assuming that it was written by de Burca, or with her approval, it reveals a staggering disconnect from reality. Apparently the point about her being given the Commission job is so that “she could continue to contribute to development of Green policy in Europe where 50-80% of our legislation originates”. What? She would have been going to work for Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, not for the Green Party. She would have been contributing to Geoghegan-Quinn’s policy, not Green policy. She would have been a subordinate to the Commissioner, not an equal, and would have no decision-making powers of her own. Essentially she would have been part of a team liaising between the Commissioner and the permanent Commission officials.

Perhaps she doesn’t understand what being a member of a Commissioner’s Cabinet actually involves. Maybe she doesn’t even realise that it’s a French word, and isn’t equivalent to the Cabinet, of which Gormley is a member. Perhaps that’s a little facetitious, but coming from someone who was (or still is, according to her website) a spokesperson on European Affairs, even to engage in this kind of discussion is shockingly ignorant.

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2010

Absolutely.

And there’s the small matter of the “50% – 80% legislation”… that’s a figure I take with a huge pinch of salt and it seems pretty self-serving for her to dish it up now.

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2. big yellow taxi - February 25, 2010

IS she still a member of the Green Party? How does that work?

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smiffy - February 25, 2010

As far as I know, yes. She’s left the parliamentary party, but is still an ‘ordinary’ member, not that you’d know from her website.

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3. Leveller on the Liffey - February 25, 2010

All this De Burca carry-on prompts one to ask if Patricia McKenna has left the political stage? I haven’t heard from her for a while – has anyone else?

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2010

I think her main political outlet is the People’s Movement? No?

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4. Alex - February 25, 2010

IS she still a member of the Green Party?

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5. DublinDilettante - February 25, 2010

I think the important point is your last one, WBS. Politics, political journalism and all the fora of political discourse are highly incestuous. I think DDB knows that, while her own pronouncements may not carry much weight, they’ll be seen by people who might pick them up and run with them (much as happened to Dan Boyle’s notorious tweet.)

What interests me about the online sphere is analysis and discussion such as that provided and facilitated by your good self, but probably more significant is its ability to break stories. I know from my own experience in sports journalism that journos have found their role increasingly restricted to chasing up already broken stories and extracting quotes (not just because they’re lazy bastards, although they are, but because they simply couldn’t compete with the breadth of sources on message boards and blogs.)

But yeah, DDB is a pretty sad figure…

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2010

I’m no fan of hers, but there was a truly vile colour piece about her in the Independent some weeks ago. Sexist and unpleasant. She’s clearly super ambitious but she didn’t deserve that. No one does.

One thing about the CLR. We don’t break stories. No interest in it whatsoever. A number of reasons. Firstly we probably do hear a fair old bit, but… what’s the fecking point in being first to release it? Fingers could point back far too easily at our individual contributors and for the supposed kudos we’d be screwed. Secondly this ain’t a news site. Policy and big picture is our gig. I’m in no sense slagging off those who do do that, but it’s not what this site is about.

I think you’re absolutely right though. The broader emphasis on blogs has really shook up mainstream media. I can’t work out is that a good or a bad thing. I tend to be delighted though that Murdoch can’t work out how to monetise it either!

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6. Dr. X - February 25, 2010

>>>while her own pronouncements may not carry much weight, they’ll be seen by people who might pick them up and run with them

‘From hell’s heart I stab at thee, Deputy Gormley’.

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smiffy - February 26, 2010

Excellent!

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7. CMK - February 25, 2010

As I read somewhere recently, there has to be a long German word for the feeling of having your prejudices, suspicions and general disliking for a person confirmed by that person’s actions.

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Charlie - February 26, 2010

You’re not talking about “Schadenfreude” ?

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8. Que - February 25, 2010

I’ll give 9/4 odds that Cedarlounge will be on the next post from deburca.

Do I have any takers?

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2010

Jesus, I hope you’re wrong!

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9. Thomas Clarke - February 26, 2010

Why Mrs de Búrca would assume that she was even entitled to a secure job in Brussels is just sheer arrogance and a confirmation of the wheeling and dealing for jobs that goes on after every general election by the victors

This also confirms that the current crop of Minsters owe their jobs to their loyalty to the party leader and not because of their qualifications in the different areas

In other words cronyism is alive and well in lenster house and it would appear Mrs.De Burca was shafted by her own party because of her “concerns” of where the party was going!

I believe that they were glad to get rid of a non performing member and a member that was increasingly demanding better job security for herself.

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10. CL - February 26, 2010

Odds on a general election in 2010 now at 13/8 at Paddy Power. Was 11/4 about 10 days ago. Dan Boyle says politics are back to normal.

http://twitter.com/sendboyle

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11. Charlie - February 26, 2010

The GP/CG is in deep trouble anyhow. Contradictions are rising.
=> http://donegalgreens.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Open-letter-to-John-Gormley-10-Dec-2009.pdf

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12. John Green - February 26, 2010

Hi Dublin Dilettante

the main complaint i’ve been hearing in recent months from journalists about blogs is that they don’t break anything like enough stories, as if they for some reason expected blogs to do their job for them. You’re right. they are lazy bastards. They should try hacking into phone calls instead.

The great thing about blogs is not that they break stories but that they provide space for comment and opinion that the privately owned mainstream media do not. Without going overboard, I like to comapre them to the coffee houses of 17th-century London, a new public sphere where voices that aren’t ordinarily heard are given an opportunity to express their opinions and to connect with others, to break out of the atomised isolation imposed by passive consumption of newspapers. Bloggers may be way off target a lot of the time, but at least it’s a bit more democratic than what we had before. I’m sure journalists, politicians, and professional writers hate that. Good.

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Leveller on the Liffey - February 26, 2010

I’ll second that (except the phone hacking, of course).

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13. soubresauts - February 26, 2010

Wow! Some of you (WbS, Smiffy, etc.) are spending a fair bit of time criticizing DdB, and failing to criticize Gormley, Ryan & co. Where does power lie?

Did anyone notice that DdB’s criticisms of Gormley are valid?

Has anyone noticed that the remaining socialist elements of GP policies and principles have been abandoned by Gormley, Ryan & co? Basic income, anyone?

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2010

Hi soubresauts, some more thoughts,I’ve spent most of last year trying to detail my profound criticisms of this government in the economic and social area. But I would point out that I’m not a Green, so I’m not exercised overly much by the personalities involved, or even that greatly by supposedly Green issues. So perhaps you’re misinterpreting a lack of attacks for agreement with apostasy as regards those issues, when in fact it is largely indifference (albeit there’s a lot of green issues which I’d agree with, climate change, sustainability, etc).
As for the ‘socialist’ aspects of the GP. I’ve always regarded them as more left than right, but never socialist. Radical, well, perhaps, but in a rather polite fashion. No problem there, politeness and courtesy are watchwords of mine. But… they’re not enough.
Re basic income, I fear the pass on that was sold a long time ago.
The point about DdB in the point above isn’t at all about her ‘Greeness’ but about the manner of her departure which I think is of interest to any of us interacting on the web and what it tells us about politics in the present period.
But that said I think if it were me I’d have played the whole thing completely differently. Much less concentration on the job (which to most on consideration seems self-serving). Much more on policy (where precisely did she dissent? NAMA? If so why not make this dissent public when the party was going through contortions last year, even to the point of a vote?).
And you wouldn’t get much more pointed criticism than smiffy’s thoughts on the Sargent affair and how that perhaps demonstrated a level of delusion within the GP.

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14. D_D - February 26, 2010

Interesting meditation on the openess of the web, WbS. ‘A recent study’ found that 90% (or more) of material put up receives no response. I have seen a couple of excellent personal blogs that have received no comments at all. It appears the very abundance of the media will produce it’s own new scale of value: only the most significant will be followed. Your’e well establish, anyhow, WbS, and deservedly so. But it must be hard work keeping it up. How much time does it take, as a matter of interest? How does Splinty and Liam and above all Andy do it? How does Mark P follow the entire world wide web!? :) [I know there are two.]

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Leveller on the Liffey - February 26, 2010

I don’t respond to the many blogs I read because of a variety of reasons (time constraints, I agree, they don’t move me one way or the other, or I can’t be arsed with sites like politics.ie). I still read them, though (except politics.ie because the trolling dross is overwhelming).

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2010

I hate it when I see blogs with no comments, on the other hand I guess if the stats are okay that makes a bit of a difference.

To be honest I use half an hour in the morning before I go to work, my lunch hour and maybe an hour in the evening to write. It depends – usually it’s within those parameters. Then to keep it all ticking over, answering emails, uploading material… another half hour at least per day. Then to keep an eye on things… well, whenever I get the chance in the evening. I can’t post or comment from work… so that’s a big limitation – or perhaps a good thing.

The Left Archive is another kettle of fish entirely. To scan (and I do most, but a big thanks to everyone who has scanned material themselves for the Archive) a multipage doc takes anything up to an hour. If it’s A3 I can only scan A4s and then knit together pages. That’s another half hour or so. Depends. Then to make the PDF and try to strike a balance between legibility and small file size. Anything up to half an hour. Then to write a short piece. Half an hour to forty mins. Then…and this is the most painful part of it, upload the thing to WordPress. At least ten minutes, often much more. So, say that’s once a week.

It’s pretty labour intensive. And it’s not always a source of popularity at home.

And all that before trying to work out what’s worth writing about… :)

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15. CL - February 26, 2010

Both DdB and F.G. may well be barking up the wrong tree regarding the forthcoming Niamh Brennan reports.
Yesterday in the Dail Gormley assured Phil Hogan that the two reports on DDDA governance and finance will be published. However there is a third report.
“Arising from its 2008 annual accounts, the authority has also prepared a report in respect of the Becbay joint venture. I have appointed independent financial advisers to review and analyse this report, in consultation with my Department and the Department of Finance. I intend to revert to Government on this matter, also within a matter of weeks.”-Gormley.
Becbay bought the Irish Glass Bottle site for over 400m euro, including public funds.
Brennan has already criticized the cross-directorships between Anglo-Irish and DDDA so it’s doubtful if there is anything ‘explosive’ in her two reports. But Gormley has not said he intends to publish the Becbay report. On this he intends ‘to revert to government’. What does this mean? And why are there no demands for its publication?

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=DAL20100225.XML&Dail=30&Ex=All&Page=10

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Leveller on the Liffey - February 26, 2010

Would Deirdre have still alleged a DDDA report ‘cover-up’ if she had landed the gig in Europe, courtesy of Fianna Fáil?

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CL - February 26, 2010

No.
But the point now is that although the two Brennan reports will be published there is another third report which apparently no one heard anything about until yesterday. Gormley has not said that he will publish this third report which deals with the Becbay consortium purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site So the suspicion of a cover-up remains.

http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/politics/gormley-gets-third-report-on-docklands-authority-113143.html

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16. Eoin - February 26, 2010

I’ve left her a message on that last post: “Let go. It’s over.” What do you think are the chances of it being allowed through?

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2010

Hmmmm…

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17. Jim Monaghan - February 26, 2010

“Would Deirdre have still alleged a DDDA report ‘cover-up’ if she had landed the gig in Europe, courtesy of Fianna Fáil?”
There is something in the bible about when a certain class of people fall out.

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18. Jim Monaghan - February 26, 2010

“Would Deirdre have still alleged a DDDA report ‘cover-up’ if she had landed the gig in Europe, courtesy of Fianna Fáil?”
There is something in the bible about when a certain class of people fall out.Let us hope that there are more falling outs so we can see what they are up to. Did anyone note how certain bankers are moving property into their spouses names in the business bit of the Irish Times.

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