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Intimidating voters June 22, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in LGBT Rights, media.

Rev Dr Vincent Twomey’s piece in the Irish Times on Monday last has lots of points, and both letters to the editor later in the week and comments under the article on the newspaper’s website dismantle the article, with a few defenders in the mix.

One point Twomey made twice in his article piqued my interest: that voters were intimidated.

He makes this claim first in a broad way, saying that there were threats — and he does use the word ‘threats’ — about how the world would see a ‘no’ vote. That is over-stretching the concept of intimidation in an electoral context, and Twomey should educate himself what real intimidation means from the reports of international election monitors (available at the website of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights).

In his second use of the term, he claims that “[t]he entire Yes campaign … was intimidating”. (In the part of that sentence that I have replaced with ellipses, he lists organisations actually behind a ‘yes’ vote — political parties and trade unions — and an official distinctly not part of the ‘yes’ side: the Chairman of the Referendum Commission, Mr Justice Cross.)

Twomey goes on to ask “How many of the 40 per cent of those registered to vote (more than 1.2 million!) failed to vote because they were intimidated?” The numbers who stayed at home was not high for an Irish referendum which either undermines his point or suggests that intimidation has been an unnoticed feature of Irish referendums for a long time.

Nor does the number and size of organisations on the ‘yes’ side mean that debate was restricted or the opportunity for the arguments against to be presented to voters. Indeed, it was the ‘yes’ side who consistently complained during the campaign that the ‘no’ side refused to debate the real issues and instead brought in matters such as surrogacy and and parenting.

It’s not the first time that a claim of intimidation has been made in the debate on marriage equality. In April 2013, the Convention on the Constitution voted, by secret ballot, by 79 percent to recommend that the Constitution be changed to allow for civil marriage by same-sex couples. The following day Senator Rónán Mullen claimed that he had witnessed members of the Convention being bullied into voting yes, but refused when asked to provide details.

At the level of the individual voter, our electoral laws are very tight on voter intimidation. The reason any extraneous writing on a ballot paper results in it being spoilt and not counting is to prevent voters being pressured to reveal their vote through an agreed code being put on the ballot paper. It is the reason why there are protections in place for those who cannot vote in secret because they are blind or illiterate (for example, restrictions on who and the number of times a person can assist a voter).

At the collective level, it is hard to see how an argument about how the world would see a ‘no’ vote can be construed as intimidation. Not can the weight of support from civil society. The No side had equal time on broadcast media, was afforded space in newspapers to make its case in op-ed columns and in letters, and mounted a substantial postering campaign (and made great play of a small number of those posters being taken down).

In fact, the only collective intimidation I saw came from Twomey’s colleague in holy orders, Archbishop Eamon Martin, who said during the campaign that the Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland would need to consider if their priests would continue to undertake the civil marriage procedures as part of its church weddings if the referendum passed. The threat, although the Archbishop denies it was a threat, of course, was the inconvenience for many couples, who would be required to go through two ceremonies, one religious and one civil. It would also have implications for the state, which would need to increase significantly the staff assigned to conducting marriages.

Twomey has misused the term ‘intimidation’.

Don’t f***ing mention the f***ing war March 15, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in media.

GCN is 25 years old March 3, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Community, Gay Community News, Gender Issues, History, Human Rights, Inequality, LGBT Rights, media, Media and Journalism.
1 comment so far

Locked out February 27, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in media, Trade Unions.


Perhaps it will get a proper airing later in the year

The denigration of politics January 5, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Irish Politics, media.

The press don’t “give a damn” and Pat Rabbitte is not pleased.

It’s been a bumpy few weeks for Pat and the PLP,  inside and out. The year finished with he and former colleagues duking it out in the national press while the Minister’s The Week in Politics comment played on loop for most of December.

This week we’re fighting a war on two fronts. Papers one day, social media the next. It’s difficult to know whither debt or negativity will do us in.

Back in May, before refusing to outline a single example, Pat thundered

Nowhere has the standard dropped so much as in the coverage of politics,


Well, if you were to read the orgy of negativity that’s around the place today, including from RTE, you would get the impression that, in some quarters, there is absolute glee about the remarks of Angela Merkel and then you ask me, with a straight face, why is the Tanaiste concerned?

and yesterday

There is an all-pervasive negativity in the media that is not helping the mood of a people that is in distress and difficulty. I don’t think the media give a damn about where this is going to bring politics. It is worthy of some thought of where the constant denigration of politics is going to bring us,

The cribbers and moaners are still with us but isn’t it remarkable how far the standard has dropped since Pat took office?

It’s been noted here and elsewhere that political correspondents often aren’t given a whole lot to work with not to mention the calibre of their subjects.

Last year while Ministers posed for photographs, assembled journalists found themselves kept in glass boxes at the gates at Government buildings before returning to find the Taoiseach’s answer to questions never asked in their inbox.

In Oslo, Enda & our Nobel prize had to be tracked on information from the Norwegian PM’s office,  no one was informed of his visit to London and the year finished in Brussels with Handlers deciding our’s would be the only the Prime Minister declining a press conference after the final summit before we assume the EU presidency.

He later appeared for a hastily arranged doorstep.

Three questions & fifteen minutes late.

But none of this really accounts for the, evident, denigration of politics. Journalists now longing for the breezy communications of Brian Cowen doesn’t quite cut it.  Could it be linked to the wave of personal abuse sweeping the country?  Recently highlighted when Ming Flanagan spent two minutes under a barrage while trying to make a point about his own children being on the receiving end because of comments made in the House and elsewhere.

Could it be the Taoiseach surfing twenty odd months of leaders’ questions with ad hominem attacks on the opposition. Is denigration a rattled Tánaiste, in response to the conundrum of Reilly, NAMA and that site, shouting

How many bodies are buried on this island because of Sinn Fein?

before passing same bodies around cabinet for shield against further questions of respite care? Absolutely but not entirely.

Is denigration just the general to and fro of parliamentary politics?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  That is why we are undertaking to reform our public services. Those reforms will be announced later today by the Minister. They will involve a reduction in the number of——

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Labour Party Deputies.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  ——public servants which will be done through the mechanisms provided for in the Croke Park agreement, in other words, by voluntary arrangements that have already been negotiated and provided for.

Kelleher’s remark and other heckles usually show up on the record as ‘(interruptions)’. A search of which runs to over ninety seven pages with twelve or so instances per page.

It wouldn’t give near an idea of how much time is wasted in a parliament with already huge constraints on speaking time.


The denigration of behaviour in Dáil Éireann probably runs parallel to the denigration of the institution itself and many others.

The futile debate mirrors the sheer pointlessness of what passes for representation and it’s here we get closer.

Pat nailed it in his own interview.

“We have garnered some brownie points with our paymasters and our European partners. [The State’s] standing and Ministers’ undertakings are of value and are accepted.”

The denigration of politics. Ah but the market..

New Edition of LookLeft Out Now September 25, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in media, The Workers' Party.

New LookLeft out now!

The latest, 48-page edition of LookLeft is in Easons stores and selected newsagents, island-wide, now. Highlights include:

Pushing the market out of housing: Justin O’Hagan identifies the threat to social housing in the North and Henry Silke assesses the media’s role in the bubble in the Republic.

Interview with David Hickey: Kevin Brannigan meets the Dublin football legend

El Salvador, the Left in power: Paul Dillon analyses the challenges facing the FMLN in Government

Dominic Behan: Donal Fallon profiles the workers’ bard

Lethal Dialect: Barry Healy speaks with the Dublin rapper about music, politics and media snobbery

21 years of Anti-Fascist Action Ireland: Bernardo O’Reilly meets the group which has help keep Ireland’s streets fascist free

Northern Ireland needs a progressive opposition: Brian McDermott looks at the failures of politics in the North in the build up to the Workers’ Party’s northern conference

Belfast Cooperatives: Áine Carroll looks at the modern cooperative movement

Legalise it?: Niall Dunne and Cieran Perry debate drug legalisation

And much more progressive politics, news and culture including Conor McCabe on banks, Cllr Ted Tynan on natural resources, Kevin Squires on the campaign against the household charge, Stephanie Lord on a woman’s right to choose…

The Donnybrook Consensus (or: “April Fool”?) April 1, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Ireland, media, Media and Journalism.

I switched off Marian Funincane’s programme on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning. She had four people on her opening panel: a Fine Gael TD, a former Fianna Fáil minister, a business correspondent from Independent Newspapers (semi-retired), and a business man.

I wonder how they are going to get a balanced discussion out of that mix. How does that selection of four get even near the diversity of experience, opinion and situation of the population RTÉ is meant to serve?

It’s not as if there are no choices available to RTÉ:

  • Not one trade unionist;
  • not one unemployed person;
  • not one person from an organisation representing unemployed people;
  • nobody from the campaign against the household charge;
  • nobody — campaigner or academic — opposed to delaying rather than cancelling the promissory notes;
  • nobody from a think tank or research group (like the Nevin Institute or TASC or the UCD School of Social Justice or the Privatisation and PPPs (P4) Research Group at UL …);
  • nobody from any of the community based organistions campaigning against austerity or for an end to poverty — the Ballyhea protest, the Kilbarrick CDP, St Michael’s Estate, Rialto Residents … ;
  • nobody from an NGO working to change Ireland like Barnardos or the EAPN or Social Justice Ireland or Claiming Our Future or the Community Workers Co-operative or Focus Ireland.

There are more than a handful of unemployed people available. Heck, more people are on the live register (439,589 in January 2012) than gave Fianna Fáil a first preference in the general election a year ago (387,358).

I know it’s April 1, but, RTÉ, you’re not being funny when you do that.

Protesters’ Stories in the Guardian January 14, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in media.
1 comment so far

The Guardian has a number of accounts from protesters around the globe over the past few years. They’re uneven, but might be worth a look.

Rupert Murdoch Attacked in Parliament (literally) July 19, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in media.

Wasn’t watching it, but the Guardian is reporting someone struck Murdoch (or sprayed shaving foam on him), before being slapped by Murdoch’s wife and scooped by the cops. Thus ended the meeting ended it seems. No press or no public allowed when it reconvenes, and unsure if tv cameras will be allowed in. Thus the debate shifts to this and away from the issues. Supposedly a comedian called Johnnie Marbles.

New LookLeft Out Now July 17, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in media, Workers' Party.

The new edition of LookLeft is out now, and contains the usual mix of progressive politics, culture, sport and history. Feature articles include Conor McCabe on Gombeen, Spivs and Bankers, an interview with Bob Crow of the RMT, the UK’s leading militant trade unionist, Fergus Whelan on the United Irishman Jemmy Hope, and John Jefferies asks those on the left of the Labour Party which side they are on. There are also several pages devoted to the case of Seán Garland, who is due in court this week for the hearing on the absurd US allegations against him.

From the editorial:

We are beginning to see a concerted workers response to the on-going attacks on our living standards. In the North the Con-Dem cutbacks have provoked strike action by public servants and delivered a clear mes- sage to Dave Cameron and his Tory boys that their agenda of increasing profits by striping communities of services will be opposed. In the south the establishment’s wage cutting onslaught is also summing up a reaction as anger turns into organised action.

The trade union movement is catching up with the feelings of its members. At its recent conference the ICTU committed to coordinating action by those who the system has attempted to condemn to a live time of slavery to the banks by forcing people into massive mortgage debt for daring to aspire to the basic human right of a family home.

Politically progressive forces are awakening, with a packed United Left Alliance forum in Liberty Hall during June pointing to the numbers seeking a new form of politics. While July saw the country’s major trade union leaders rally in defence of Sean Garland, with the leaders of SIPTU, UNITE and the TEEU all publicly speaking out in support of the veteran socialist who faces the threat of extradition after decades of progressive political struggle.

On the intellectual front encouragement must also be drawn from the positive reaction to Conor McCabe’s book Sins of the Father – the first de- tailed examination of the structural causes of southern economic collapse from a progressive perspective. This work helps activists understand how those in power have achieved their position and the damage they have done to Ireland’s social and economic progress.

LookLeft remains committed to assisting this building of a principled Left unity which must begin with an understanding of our shared radical traditions and joint progressive goals.

LookLeft is available now from every Easons in Ireland, as well as numerous other shops, or from Workers’ Party offices and members.

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