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Eoghan Harris, Hot Press and a lot of stuff… April 4, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Who wrote this recently?

“One of the reasons I really enjoy the Seanad is because Leinster
House allows me to meet a fantastic range of real Irish women. Senator Geraldine
Feeney is a terribly good-looking woman. I really admire Beverly Flynn. I love her testosterone, her energy and her sense of fun. And I love the women in the Seanad,” he said.

“I have always liked the erotic dimension in women. People say to me, ‘Well, you would because you’re getting older and you’re not able to do it any more!’ And there’s a lot of truth in that! There is a decline of sexual function, there’s no point pretending there isn’t,” he informs as he reveals his new, younger wife gets as much out of the marriage as he does because they are “political soul mates”.

Why, it’s none other than Eoghan Harris. Recognise the intimate writ large, the name-dropping, the sense of inviolable self-confidence, the readability of it all, albeit in a car crash sort of a way.

And yet something is missing here. Something very important. Something that really shouldn’t be…

I totally believe in the de-criminalisation of drugs… fundamentally I am a libertarian. I belive that people are responsible for their own lives….

Okay, but where is the ideology? What we appear to get instead is a pro-legalisation of drugs, vaguely libertarianism, nearly but not quite liberal, almost avuncular figure. Now this too is no coincidence. It is unlikely that Harris could have made it as far as he has without carefully tailoring his message to his specific audience. Hence one doubts that the fluffy stuff about sensuality and the near-morose ponderings of a failing male sexuality in advancing age enlivened his conversations with David Trimble. Equally, it seems unlikely that during the planning of the entirely horrendous Twink sketch at the Fine Gael Ard Fhéis in the early 1990s that he sallied forth with his thoughts on the legalisation of drugs. Too rich for John Bruton’s blood. But all this, just right for Hot Press, including some slightly cringe-inducing references to the counter-culture and the excellence of the HP editor.

Niall Stokes comes out of that ’60s libertarian generation; counter culture; up yours to the establishment. Niall Stokes is still one of the most tolerant people…

Sure, there are some digs, supposedly political…

I accept that when Ahern goes, I may have a more rocky relationship with Fianna Fáil.

But putting that aside even his much vaunted loathing of the Provisionals seems nothing so much as a phase, one that started, say, around 1970 or so and continued until… well perhaps until, as he informs us, he had a recent cup of tea with Martin Ferris. Oh, to have been there when that happened, if indeed it did.
And class, well it’s a fascinating thing because even the detested Provo’s are much more ‘his’ people…

Although I hate Irish nationalism, I don’t dislike Sinn Féiners. Far from it – as human beings I tend to like them a lot more than Dublin 4 types. I come from they same political background and they tend as people to be stand-up guys and girls… and SF people from outside Dublin reflect the basic values of rural Ireland… So I would rather have a cup of coffee with Martin Ferris – and I have done – than with some of the trendy shites who sit on Government and Opposition benches…

Yeah, stuff those D4 types and their fancypants ways… which of course is why he advised FG, Robinson, etc, etc…

But reading it the impression that I gain is of a person who made hay while the sun shone during the 1970s and 1980s and onwards by managing to do something very Irish indeed. He locked into the glamour and mystique of television (albeit on the technical side) and leveraged that into a strange sort of celebrity. It might be stretching it to suggest that he was in some respects the equal and equivalent of Gay Byrne – however much he might enjoy, and revel in, that comparision, but really? Where else, could such unhinged movement from ideological pole to ideological pole be dressed up as constancy? Where else could the proposal and dismissal of political positions of almost incredible difference be seen as a badge of honour? Where else could someone who drops the word ‘dialectical’ into a conversation to describe the most banal processes be regarded as a sign of profound intellect? Only in a society going through rapid transformative change where the ‘glamour’ of television locked straight into the modernising project, such as it was, one which was at root much much less political or ideological than social.

And… my horror of what I believed could turn into a general pogrom against Protestants conditioned my attitude to any manifestation of sectarian nationalism. I was particularly perturbed by pan-nationalism, the kind of thing that John Hume and the Irish government were working for until 1998…

I tried to see the two sides and establish a political dialectic, using my own background and my new insights into Northern Protestants to put the two sides to David Trimble [as regards the ‘cold house for Catholics’ phrase which he claims’.

Okay, but in a context where one nationalism (British) was embedded in the North did he really believe in this apocalyptic prognostication, or that the Irish government up until 1998 (prop. J. Bruton 1994-7, prop. B. Ahern 1997 – now) was ‘pan-nationalist’ in any meaningful way? This isn’t political analysis. It’s certainly not history either. It’s simply self-aggrandising nonsense.

Only in a country where we had one state television service and … ah yes, that’s right, nothing else. Only in the super-heated atmosphere of a society where not so much the civil war defined Irish politics as the lack of any serious movement forward from the civil war to new political or ideological positions. Only in a state where to identify with those who identified with not so much with another cultural and political tradition, as to ignore the nationalisms at the root of that tradition and treat them as somehow not nationalist at all, could be regarded as radicalism of the most extreme form.

And there is a certain sort of naive optimism about the way in which his pronouncements down through the years were received. I’m odd I guess in that I remember all too well reading the “Necessity for Social Democracy” and thinking ‘what a crock, that places us [in the WP] to the right of Labour and Fine Gael’… but some who should have known better took it entirely seriously. Have his detractors actually read his advice to Mary Robinson. It’s not rocket science, that much is for sure…

You need distinctive, attractive European colour systems for posters and logos. Colour is critical. Think of the way Peter Mandelson used the red rose in Britain. You need a ‘feminine’ but strong colour system, preferably Italian style with a typography designed by a graphic artist with a feel for that kind of ‘soft’ political attack.

But… to be fair, in the context of Irish political campaigning this may well have seemed like a remarkable blueprint for political success.

And also in fairness a certain charisma attached itself to him. As it happened I had some dealings with him and he was, as the phrase goes, unfailingly courteous, and reasonably helpful. I never heard him lecture the masses, but IIRC Splintered Sunrise has given a good report of his abilities back in the day…
So once more, could Eoghan Harris have appeared at any time other than when the new medium of television was taking hold in Ireland? Could he have persuaded people of his ability to utilise the dark arts of media manipulation in any other period? Could he have swayed a remarkable array of politicians from all points on the political spectrum? I don’t think so.

I have strong views on the abuse of internet boards like Indymedia and politics.ie [he says when it is suggested he harbours a dislike of blogging] by political nerds who need anonymity to function (sic). I have always seen them as little wankers masturbating in a room and hiding behind the computer while they write their nasty pieces. They absolutely loathe me but I regard their attacks as a badge of honour. What I loathe more than political correctness is left wing political correctness….

It is of little wonder that he regards the new medium of the internet with such disdain, because it’s not his, is it? The glamour of television has been diluted in the more democratic but increasingly pedestrian reality of the internet. Everyone can hold forth on any subject as long as they like, and as loudly as they can get an audience. His unique selling point is lost in a world where everyone is a political pundit, advisor and newscaster.

His recent outing on TV3 with Ursula Halligan said it all. His command had deserted him as he meekly submitted to her ‘we’re recording as live’ diktat. Here was a figure strangely like the Paisley of recent times, the pugnacious streak not quite gone, but fading fast. The new generosity of spirit (note his somewhat revisionist revisionist spin on Sinn Féin) not quite there, but becoming ever more visible.

His position as regards Bertie Ahern has been revelatory – note what he said yesterday reported a couple of posts ago about how ‘anyone who looked at Berties face would see he was honest’. Oh yes. Here too the ideological has been subsumed into a miasma of emotionalism one step removed from that of our other great bard, John Waters. Bertie is great… well, greater than he was when reeling Sinn Féin into the Good Friday Agreement.

Is this how political careers end, not with a whimper, but with a hug?

In some respects the most serious aspect of this who issue is how such a deeply unideological individual managed to impress upon others the idea that he was profoundly ideological. I’m fairly sure he’d be an interesting person to discuss these and other issues, but that is not in any way to dispute the fact that he has had a negative impact on aspects of societal discourse over the years…

Still, I will never forget the following from the same interview:

Most women dress for women and look crap as a result. But if you are one of the few bright women who want to be noticed by both men and women, here are my three ‘nevers’ of fashion:

Never wear culottes or shorts no matter what the tempatation. Never wear pashminas, wraps or shawls in an attempt to hide weight – men have x-ray eyes when it comes to weight… Never pass up the chance to wear anything with a leopard skin motif – not the loud sort, but anything with a dappled effect. I think it prompts primitive genetic memories of animals moving through trees!

Senator Harris, we salute you. Irish public life would indeed be…different… yes, that’s the word… without you.*

* he tells us that being Senator is ‘a horrible job. I’m doing a term. I don’t want to do more than one term. I actually find it time-consuming and tedious’. Promises, promises…

Comments»

1. Jim Monaghan - April 4, 2008

“I have always seen them as little wankers masturbating in a room and hiding behind the computer while they write their nasty pieces”

So says Mr Harriss. Are we to beleive that he did not hide his full politics and agenda in RTE during the time it was a “cold place” for nationalists of the mildest kind.
Though I think as ell that too many hide their identities on Indymedia and suspect that there are also some who act to destroy and poison debate.
Whatever flag Harris hides behind he is essentially authoritarian whether in the service of Stalinisn, blueshitrism or the new “liberal” establishment
Whatever it is worth I am Jim Monaghan (the lesser known one)

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2. irishelection - April 4, 2008

Does anyone read hot press anymore?

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3. Ben - April 4, 2008

“I have always seen them as little wankers masturbating in a room and hiding behind the computer while they write their nasty pieces.”

What’s Eoghan Harris doing with a camera in my room?

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4. John O'Neill - April 4, 2008

“I have always seen them as little wankers masturbating in a room and hiding behind the computer while they write their nasty pieces.”

From the big wanker yanking his chain to Beverly in a leopard skin cat suit.

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5. Hugh Green - April 4, 2008

Not the first time that Harris’s effusions come with a lascivious tinge. I remember one ST piece in which he described himself as a ‘hangdog heterosexual’, and another in which he fantasised over buxom Northern Protestant women of a resolutely unionist disposition.

He is also adept at seeing into the very depths of a soul by focusing on a particular personal detail. In Ahern’s case, it was his face. In the case of his client Ahmad Chalabi, it was the fact that his favourite author was Virginia Woolf.

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6. Niall - April 4, 2008

Excellent analysis.

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7. smiffy - April 4, 2008

Agree with Niall – great piece, although it’s very unfair of you to bring up the Twink debacle. Didn’t you see A Family at War, the documentary about Fine Gael? In it we’re told (by Harris) that it was actually hilarious on the page, but Twink ruined it! Of course, the idea that perhaps it was Twink herself who was the problem isn’t something on which Harris cares to speculate.

I like (as in, I find amusing) his comment about hating left-wing political correctness more than political correctness. I wasn’t aware that there was any other kind of political correctness than the left-wing variety. Am I missing something? I suspect that when Harris says ‘political correctness’, he’s actually referring to ‘any political position with which he (Harris) happens to disagree at any particular time’.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some anonymous masturbating to do.

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8. Eagle - April 4, 2008

smiffy’s right – all the political correctness is on the left. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about there. I’d like to defend Eoghan Harris because I have something of a soft spot for him (although I don’t want to see him in Leopard skin dappled or not), but I can’t think of anything to offer in his defense right now.

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9. Ed Hayes - April 4, 2008

Maybe right wing political correctness is when all critics of Israel are called anti-semites; its not unquestionable that no woman is at fault for rape (see J. Waters); when Islam is the only backward, mystic religion in the world; when slavery was 150 years ago, so get over it! That type of thing…

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10. chekov - April 4, 2008

“I have always seen them as little wankers masturbating in a room”

Rats, I must have left the web-cam running again while visiting my special sites.

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11. smiffy - April 4, 2008

Eh, Eagle – just to clarify. I don’t actually believe that political correctness as such really exists. I think it’s an concept originating with the right in the United States as a way of avoiding substantial debate around issues of social liberalism (one doesn’t need any more to actually engage with opposing arguments – one can simply label them as ‘politically correct’ and dismiss them entirely that way). This concept – maybe it could be described as a ‘meme’ – then made its way around the world, and was taken up by people who – like Harris – just use it to denigrate positions they don’t agree with without having to go to the bother of making a cogent argument.

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12. chekov - April 4, 2008

Incidentally, I reckon that the reason why Harris and the rest of the sindo-lapdogs hate indymedia and blogging so much is down to google.

Jim Cuasck:
http://www.google.ie/search?hl=en&q=%22jim+cusack%22&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

Indymedia No. 1 & 2. Including the immortal phrase in their teaser:

“Jim Cusack, a man hilariously described as something of a Walter Mitty figure”

Eoghan Harris:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22eoghan+harris

No. 2 is from badmananthem entitled “Eoghan Harris is a world class Gimp”

No 5 is from indymedia.

John Waters (searched with ‘ireland’ for disambiguation).

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-GB%3Aofficial&hs=fXU&q=%22john+waters%22+ireland&btnG=Search

Indymedia is no 2, johnwaters.ie is no 3.

I am sure that the fact that indymedia and a few blogs define their online reputation (which is essentially becoming one’s reputation in general) causes them no end of rage.

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13. Conor McCabe - April 4, 2008

Whereas Fintan O’Toole’s second google hit is his page on Granta, and his third is an article he wrote for the Guardian.

http://tinyurl.com/5njour

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14. Dec - April 4, 2008

Chekov, thats very funny, I never thought of it that way before. They will die knowing that there obituraties will be written the next day by some young reporter who gets the info from google.

Jim Cusack’s will be hilarious. That man is just so wrong its unreal that he is still employed to write.

Years ago I bought a book of his called The UVF and prior to the internet I really had no idea that he made so many mistakes (mostly blogs that pointed this stuff out). After his nonsense with the Dublin riots, I ended up posting it back to him in the Sindo.

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15. soubresauts - April 5, 2008

Yes, WbS, it would be stretching it to compare Harris to Gay Byrne.

Here’s a nice reminder of how long Gay has been at the top of his profession… (it’s 1963):
http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=RbjHqnb3dMM

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16. copernicus - April 5, 2008

You dudes should look up “political correctness”.

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17. Eoghan Harris, the bloggers, grief and Michael Clifford | Maman Poulet - April 5, 2008

[…] we’re pondering Eoghan Harris and the planet he resides on – go read World By Storm’s excellent dissection of his utterings in Hot […]

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18. CL - April 5, 2008

I’m disappointed in Harris: not once in all the coverage of the resignation did he reveal whether Bertie is an Aristotelean or Platonist.

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19. Harry - April 6, 2008

Harris was a lecturer in Scriptwriting when I was in film college. All he did was talk about himself. Really, that’s all he did!

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20. WorldbyStorm - April 6, 2008

Very interesting Harry, I’ve heard similar stories. Granted lecturers are self-centred, but even so…

CL, that’s a bloody good point. 🙂

Thanks Maman Poulet…

re political correctness, IIRC that was a nazi term. Perhaps we shouldn’t.

soubresauts, only insofar as both latched on to TV. Gay is pretty reactionary too when one comes down to it…

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21. Damien Mulley » Blog Archive » Fluffy Links - Monday 7th April 2008 - April 7, 2008

[…] He read it so we don’t have to. (Una’s started something) World By Storm deconstructs Eoghan Harris in HotPress. […]

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22. Twenty Major - April 7, 2008

Top post.

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23. stretchneil - April 7, 2008

Great post.

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24. Green Ink - April 7, 2008

That whole wanking and typing thing is a bastard, what?

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25. WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2008

We’d have to consult the Senator…

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26. Brian - April 16, 2008

Jim Monaghan has a valid point about Indymedia destroying
debate-it won’t publish anything it disapproves of.
For instance, this morning, under the name Hiro Nakamura, I published a post criticising the Irish Political Review’s book on the Irish Times. Two
of the other posters told me to get lost. When I made my
post it was responding to them it was deleted. When I
posted it again (twice) it
was deleted and I was banned from the site-even though
the post wasn’t libellous or off topic.

I can publish the post here, if anyone is interested in my
humble opinion (unlike the folk at “Indy” media).

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27. chekov - April 16, 2008

Brian, to answer the question that was hidden on indymedia:

And why should people who disagree with John Martin and the
Athol books group start a seperate thread about the subject
on Indymedia? Do you not want to
allow criticism to appear on this one?”

Well, because, we’ve had dozens of threads devoted to criticisms of the IPR/Aubane and we’re probably a bit cheesed off with reading exactly the same debate every time they are mentioned. We try to keep debate on a particular thread relevant to the particular topic of that thread, rather than being an open-ended debate on all related issues. If you have much experience of looking at d’internet, you will notice that debates tend to have a groundhog day quality about them – it used to be that every time an immigrant was mentioned, we got the exact same generic debate about immigration which was pointless and meant that immigrant related campaigners were increasingly reluctant to post any news to the site – given the inevitable repeated circular debate that they would be subjected to.

The reason why your subsequent comments were hidden is because they were about editorial actions – in common with pretty much all functioning open-publishing sites, we don’t allow editorial debate to intermingle with comments on stories because it inevitably derails the story – if you have a problem with editorial actions, use the contact form.

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28. Brian - April 16, 2008

Thanks for explaining Chekov. It makes me feel less angry.
But I still have some
questions:

“Dozens of threads”? AFAIK, there were
only 2, and one of them ended up being locked. I still believe I was
unfairly treated by the other posters-they wanted to forbid
anything other than the issue of McDowell’s letters to be
discussed on that thread* .The fact that they wanted me to not to
post criticism of Athol Books I found problematic-people have
legitimate criticisms of that particular organization,
and shouldn’t be bullied into being silenced. And a single
comment aimed at defending that right shouldn’t be
deleted either.

I know you don’t care personally for the Aubane group
Chekov, and I hate those endless online slanging matches
too-(I would have stopped posting if it were
going in that direction).And yes, I am sorry for
not sending those comments to the editoral board
instead of posting them online.

But I still feel there were double standards
at work here.Just because I don’t own a
publishing house, four magazines and can’t get
Government minsters turning up to my book
launch doesn’t mean my comments deserve
to be deleted.

*It’s like Aubane believe repeating this old scandal
will magically shut up all their political opponents.

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29. Tortoise - February 8, 2009

Leave Harris and Waters alone. They add to the gaiety of nations. The ego relaxes and expands in this small country as soon as celebrity hits. Then smugness sets in. Then a heady sense of infallibility as one’s every utterance is quoted and parsed, not to speak of the cocaine-like rush of power when one is invited onto the Late Late with a duo of fellow egotists to spout any oul’ nonsense, shout, rant, weep about the poor workers, talk about your cancer and those idle public servants, play to the gallery, get a cheap laugh, contradict what you said six months ago, crash and burn but get invited back anyway….Oh, Heaven. If the nurses in overcrowded Friday night casualty wards who are having their wages docked could only pause for a minute and watch this stuff….they’d laugh til they cried (Weeping Eamonn’s 32,000 Euro ten per cent pay cut is so close to a nurse’s annual salary that it’s no wonder the tender-hearted and humble celebrity ranter / journo feels their pain) Harris himself is a wonder. Watching his foam-flecked diatribes seems somehow wrong, almost voyeuristic. But after a few minutes you can’t stop yourself, you start justifying it “Just this once…just til he says ‘Platonic’…oh, God, no..” Waters has dignity, rare among pundits, and won’t stoop to playing to the gallery. So he is usually not allowed get a word in.
Harris mentioned in the Sindo a few weeks ago that as it was a lovely morning and life is short he decided to skip his Film Studies class (call in sick I think) and go to Cork. Who can blame him? But you know, Eoghan, as your buddies in the Sindo keep pointing out, this kind of caper would never be tolerated in the private sector. Having cancer on the minimum wage (as Ibec says ‘We’re paying ourselves too much’) is an experience that would no doubt lead to tears and ranting, if one only had the energy, or the celebrity connections.
So gentle bloggers and posters let the ranting and posturing and crocodile weeping continue. In this recession the ordinary working, and non-working people need every now and then to laugh long, hard, bitterly, hysterically at some overpaid clowns loving the sound of their own voices. We can get through this.

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30. WorldbyStorm - February 8, 2009

One presumes Harris knows that he has a duty of care to his students, not to mention a responsibility both contractual and otherwise to fulfill the terms of his employment (not least due to the fact that that group are going to graduate into the toughest employment context in a generation or more), but hey, why let inconveniences like that get in the way of *his* life?

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31. Eoghan Harris makes another “balls-up” « The Dreaming Arm - June 3, 2009

[…] noting.   He’s been called many things over the years by other bloggers, such as Infactah, Cedar Lounge, Maman Poulet, Green Ink, Associate Notes, Tangents  and Adam Maguire – most of them fairly […]

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32. Eoghan Harris - Page 8 - June 15, 2010

[…] […]

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