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Two faced Sindo sneers at and applauds Ken Loach Film

category international | arts and media | opinion/analysis author Monday June 05, 2006 00:08author by Harry Wells Report this post to the editors

Not Ok for Brits to denounce film, Ok for Sindo pro-Brits to do so

The Sunday Independent today exposes The Sun and Daily Mail’s cynical hypocrisy in giving their two audiences in Ireland and Britain totally opposite messages with regard to Ken Loach’s prize-winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. The film depicts the brutal nature of Britain’s war against Irish Independence between 1919-21 and the subsequent Civil War conflict.

In Britain The Sun boldly states Loach's film to be “the most pro IRA ever” and the Daily Mail asks “Why does” the “Marxist” film’s director Ken Loach “loath his country so much”. In the ‘Irish’ editions of these British tabloids, on the other hand, the film is an “Irish success” story.

The Sunday Independent wants to associate with the national "success" and to denounce its rivals' imperial "sneer" at the same time.

However, the Sunday Independent simultaneously exposes its own schizophrenia while doing so. It manages to deliver exactly the same conflicting messages in the one newspaper, the story of Irish success and also a “sneer” at this success.

How so? Read on.

'Fearless' Sindo fears to mention who wrote Daily Mail "sneer"
'Fearless' Sindo fears to mention who wrote Daily Mail "sneer"

Harris has a go

In the very same Sunday Independent, Eoghan Harris, who attacked Neil Jordan’s ‘Michael Collins’ movie as pro IRA and pro Sinn Fein some years ago in Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times, launches a stinging attack on Loach’s film. In language that would be in place in the British Editions of The Sun and Daily Mail, he accuses Loach of using language “strikingly similar to … the politics of Sinn Fein” and of a “diatribe on Daily Ireland [that] can easily be used as propaganda by the provos”.

Like the British ’critics’ Harris has not seen the film yet, but he can’t wait to get his attack in first. He does not mention that Loach was asked to comment by Daily Ireland on the British press attack on his film. Loach did so honestly and forthrightly, as is his custom. Harris attempts also his usual McCarthyite tactics, He tries to force a wedge between the actors and the director of the film. He assumes the actors will do his bidding because they are “decent”. In fact this is an insidious form of intimidation.

Sir Anthony’s minion

The ex-republican and now ‘Sir’ Anthony O’Reilly sycophant (Harris wrote recently that he was paid out of O’Reilly’s profits) accuses Loach of being “neo-colonial” because Loach links the British occupation of Ireland with the US and British occupation in Iraq. In ‘Harris world’, everything is topsy-turvey and upside down – don’t expect his words to mean anything intelligible. An opposite meaning is generally the more accurate stab at reality.

One thing is for sure, Harris does everything he can to undermine the anti-imperialist tradition in Ireland. He attacked the 1916 Rising commemoration and the IRA’s conduct of the War of independence. He also supports the illegal US and British invasion and occupation of Iraq. He is a long-standing, since his days as a member of the neo-unionist ‘officials’ and supporter of censorship, opponent of Sinn Fein. He is a firm supporter, like another Sunday Independent regular, Ruth Dudley Edwards, of the Ulster Unionist Party and of the Orange Order. This gives rise to another problem for the Sunday Independent in the proclamation of its ‘Irishness’ against British newspaper rivals.


The Sunday Independent is exposed in another way. While the two editions of The Sun are contrasted visually and the author is mentioned, that is not the case with the Daily Mail piece. The reason is not hard to find. The author was none other than well-known Sunday Independent provo bashing regular, Ruth Dudley Edwards. Ruth’s name as Daily Mailauthor is absent from the piece the Sunday Independent quotes from and derides.

Indymedia is happy to rectify the lapse.

There is another thread with a discussion of RDE’s efforts here:


’Don’t read my Pearse book’

All in all it has been funny old week for Ruth Dudley Edwards. The Irish Political Review covered her denunciation at Queens of the exposure of her performance at an Irish Embassy do, at which she encouraged people not to read her biography on Pearse and at which she had condemned the 1916 Rising. Read about it here:


Now she is criticised by the Irish Sunday newspaper she regularly writes for, for writing the same kind of anti-republican message in an English newspaper. Though they wisely kept her name out of it.

It is at times like this that all the reactionaries come together, but they also like to disguise the fact that they all think the same thing, and more often than not write the same thing for and about each other. Such uniformity of view would not go down well with the reading public. Hence the hypocritical censorship within the exposure of the hypocrisy.


But why does the Sunday Independent want to attack the Daily Mail in particular? The Sunday Independent is in competition with the Daily Mail and the Mail owned Ireland on Sunday. The Sunday Independent likes to proclaim its ‘Irishness” and simultaneously its rival’s Britishness. This is good for reader identification and it is hoped will maintain Sunday Independent circulation, and prevent defection to an identified ‘British’ product with an ‘Irish’ edition.

But the Sunday Independent has the same pro-British, in fact reactionary Irish, politics as its British rivals. This news seldom becomes part of joined up thinking. When it does, life, usually so simple with reactionary denunciations, made up stuff and sensationalist sexist rubbish, becomes complex.

Normally it is not a problem because normally no one notices. Today it is because we do.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76386

Why it is none other than Sindo regular Ruth Dudley Edwards
Why it is none other than Sindo regular Ruth Dudley Edwards

Which one exactly is your country, Ruth?
Which one exactly is your country, Ruth?

author by NEIL JORDAN - The Irish Times October 23, 1996publication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 01:01Report this post to the editors

(Note: Eoghan Harris attacked Neil Jordan's Michael Collins film incessantly after it first came out in 1996 - accusing Jordan of historical inaccuracy and other failings (being pro today's IRA, etc, ad nauseam). Harris has ‘form’ when it comes to attacking other people’s films. Harris’s vitriol in this case was said to be partly based on the fact that his own much-hyped Collins project never made it past Harris' script. Michael Cimino arrived in Dublin at one stage to meet Harris and to view his script. He emerged from the encounter, as the song says, ‘a wiser weaker man’, and decided not to make the film. This is Jordan's celebrated reply to Harris.)

ANY discussion of the historical veracity of my film, Michael Collins has to be predicated, I suppose, on the fact that it is a film. Film is a medium which in the space of two hours, can enact a drama - or be set within a drama - that took place over the three decades of the individual's life.

Film is not history, cannot be history, but every now and then makes use of history for its gown purposes. So the only real kind of assessment can be a comparative one, one that compares different, filmic versions of the same subject with others. To make an assessment of the veracity of different versions, I have gone back to the archives, so to speak to discover what other treatments there have been of Michael Collins - even what other mentions of Michael Collins - in the archives of cinema.

The first one finds is a Samuel Goldwyn production made in the 1930s called Beloved Enemy. Directed by H.C. Potter, it was photographed by the great Gregg Toland and starred Merle Oberon and Brian Aherne. Despite a disclaimer at the start, there are some comparisons to be drawn between the parts played by Oberon and Aherne and the figures of Collins and Lady Lavery. Aherne plays the part of Reardon, a Republican leader during the War of Independence who falls in love with Helen, the daughter of Lord Athleigh, a British diplomat attempting to find a way out of the conflict through peace talks. The film follows the trials of their relationship under pressure from Reardon's Republican associates - chief among them one O'Rourke - and from the British forces, understandably anxious to capture Reardon, the most wanted man in the island. It becomes more interesting when peace negotiations begin, with Helen pivotally placed both to convince her father to convene them in the first place, and to convince Reardon to stick with them and accept a compromise.

The resulting treaty leads inevitably to Reardon's death. He is shot by O'Rourke while making a public speech in support of the treaty he has signed. The film is conventional, perhaps to a fault. Its histrionic portrayal of the Troubles is nowhere offset by any grace in Toland's work. It is most notable for the fact that its ending was changed to a happy one (demonstrating even then inherent problems in the material for Hollywood) and for the fact that O'Rourke's role in Reardon's death could be confused with malicious rumours of the time about Emmet Dalton's supposed role in the death of Michael Collins.

Which brings us to This Other Eden, an Emmet Dalton production based on an Abbey play by Louis D'Alton, directed by Muriel Box, in 1959. As film historian Kevin Rockett points out in his admirable study of the National Film Studios, Emmet Dalton could have made this film, in part, as an answer to the malicious and unfounded rumours that surrounded him for most of his life, and by implication, to the film Beloved Enemy. It opens during the War Of Independence as Jack Carberry, an IRA leader, drives with his friend Devereux to a meeting with a British officer to negotiate an end to the war. On his way he is shot by the Black and Tans. This sequence is a prologue to the main plot, which begins 30 years later in the village where the dead hero was born. A statue is being erected to him, which gives rise to mixed feelings among a host of characters. Among them are Devereux, who has long been suspected of complicity in Carberry's death, Brown, an enlightened Englishman, and a group of local gombeen men of varying hues. A satire of bitterness and disillusion ensues, the pivotal event being the blowing up of the statue by forces unknown, which could be seen to echo the disillusion and embitterment left by the War of Independence and the Civil War.

Both these films are most interesting for their techniques of avoidance - for the oblique fictional context within which the recent historical events are played. And it is precisely this avoidance of precise historical context that allows them raise the issues they are dealing with. So a comparison between actual and fictional events would be fruitless.

THE third reference in the archives of Irish cinema is a film as yet unmade, but much talked about over the past years, in particular by its screenwriter, Eoghan Harris. The screenplay is called Mick, and, unlike the movies mentioned above, it does purport to be an account of Collins's life, deeds, and an assessment, I can only assume, of his significance in the broader events in our island of which he was a part. So a comparative study in this case can be made.

The script opens with the young Collins and his father taking a piglet to the market. On the way they observe soldiers supervising an eviction. (Students of history will note that the last eviction happened in Cork a decade before Collins was born.) After witnessing the eviction, they proceed to the market which is interrupted by a party of fox-hunting gentry careering down the main street. They ride roughly through the peasants, almost trampling a young six-year-old girl called Kitty. Kitty is pulled from the impending hooves of the horses by the young Collins. Among the hunting-party about to trample on Kitty is a 16-year-old Constance Gore-Booth. (Constance Gore-Booth's home was in Lissadell in Sligo. Perhaps she had travelled from Lissadell to fox-hunt in west Cork.) Young Michael sticks out his tongue at her. Constance sticks her tongue out at him. From the market, Michael and his father proceed to the railway station and watch a train pull in. On the train is Tom Clarke, manacled, in chains, being taken to England by the RIC. Tom Clarke gives the young boy a watch. Michael looks at the watch tick as the train pulls off. (There is no record of this meeting, or of this watch.)

The action then cuts to London, 10 years later. Collins, described as thirtyish, serving his employment in a London post office. He travels to a London prison, where Tom Clarke is being strip-searched before being released. Collins meets Tom Clarke, watch in hand, to take him home. (Tom Clarke was released from prison in 1898. Collins would have been seven at the time.)

Collins and Clarke travel from London through Ireland to a place described as Valley Of The Mouth Of The Flowers. (Presumably Beal Na Blath.) On the way they pass Constance Gore-Boothe, still on a hunter, shouting tally-ho. They arrive at a nearby town, where Kitty, now a young woman, admits them surreptitiously into a shop. There, Collins gathers recruits for the IRB. After this work is done, Kitty kisses him a fond goodnight, after vainly trying to entice him to stay with the offer of a hot whiskey. (We can now only presume this is Kitty Kiernan, of Granard, Co Longford. Geography, as well as history is getting confused here since The Valley Of the Mouth Of The Flowers, or Beal Na Blath, as everybody knows, is in West Cork.)

The action then cuts to Lissadell House. Constance Gore-Booth is at home at last, but still on horseback, with a friend. They ride through a coppice but do not shout "Tally Ho!". Instead, they observe Michael Collins in a game of hurley, which is in turn observed by two policemen. When the police move away, the game changes into a drilling-practice, with hurleys substituting for rifles. Constance makes the observation that this seems like fun.

Later that day, all of the above characters turn up at an election meeting where a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party is soliciting votes. The Irish Parliamentary Party member, described as portly and prosperous, asks the crowd of degraded, cheering drunks to vote for him, as he will beg for Home Rule and a little parliament of our own, but one loyal to the British Empire. Then, he observes, there will be whiskey and a good price for pigs. (This one must presume, represents the point of view of the party of John Redmond, the Irish, non-violent parliamentary tradition which stretches back to the days of Parnell.) Collins interrupts from the crowd and calls for a free Irish Republic. A riot ensues which is silenced by Constance Gore-Booth "with her imperious eye She tells the mob to be quiet or her father will evict them. She orders them then to listen to what Collins has to say. After they have listened, she invites Collins to dinner at the Big House.

Collins cycles on his bicycle towards Lissadell House. On his way he peers through a shrubbery of rhododendrons. There he observes a nude Hazel Lavery, seated on a fallen tree. She looks at him straight in the eye and then Sir John Lavery appears behind her, artist's palette in hand, painting her. Collins backs off and bumps into Constance Gore-Booth who grins mischievously and says "Tally Ho Mr Collins! Come and meet everybody!" (Again, students of history will note that Collins met Lady Lavery for the first time in London during the Treaty negotiations.)

Dinner ensues with all parties joined by Henry, Constance s father, and a military friend of hers called Crake. A political discussion ensues, and concludes when Collins invites the Gore-Booths to visit the cabins on their estates where they have never been. They travel down to the cabins where a wild ceili is in session, around an enormous bonfire. Observing the ceilli for some reason is Kitty. She watches unsmiling as Constance draws Collins into the ceili, shouting "Tally Ho!" As Constance loses herself in the abandon of set-dancing, Collins sits with Lady Lavery, who is sketching the scene, and they discuss the relative merits of art and revolution.

The ceili concludes with Constance, in a magical political transformation that seems to have banished the phrase "Tally Ho!" from her vocabulary, promising the tenants their freedom. She promises freedom with the following logic - that she is a Gore-Booth: when the Gore-Booths promised them to hang they were hanged; when they promised eviction, they were evicted; when they swore loyalty to the King Of England, they were loyal; they have always kept their word. And now here is her word. They will be free. She Constance Gore-Booth gives them her word. They will be free.

I have now reached page 31 of a 131-page screenplay. It seems fruitless to continue with historical comparisons, since they are few and far between. Perhaps there is some other dialectic at work here. It seems to be an account of history written with reference to the melodramas of Dion Boucicault, or springing straight from the pages of Ireland's Own. In the manner of these heroic tales, it has Collins at the centre of every historical event. Waiting at Howth Harbour with Constance for the arrival of the Asgard. Persuading Tom Barry (before 1916) to join the British army, fight in France, learn the arts of war and continue a rebellion he already knows will be a failure.

Collins is present at the signing of the proclamation. Observes wryly the debacle in the GPO, which he describes as "bullshit". Observes the aftermath, during which a "G" man, Wilson, strips Tom Clarke naked and knees Collins in the groin. The guerilla war proper then begins, with Collins again in all places at once. The only place Collins does not seem to be is in Westminster, where Churchill and Lloyd George fulminate like characters out of Boucicault at each new success by Collins.

Churchill eventually, in desperation, sets up an auxiliary force under the supervision of Constance's old friend Crake, (who said "Tally- Ho!" so readily), recently returned from the trenches in France. Crake and his auxiliaries meet their match in an epic encounter at the Valley Of The Mouth Of The Flowers with Tom Barry who, it seems, was Crake's old sergeant on the fields of France, and his flying column. This encounter seems to be based on the battle of Kilmichael and is described in epic terms, complete with wafting smoke, swirling bag-pipes, bayoneted bodies and, oddly enough, Michael Collins. Barry, needless to say, bayonets Crake, who has a cigarette-holder clenched between his militaristic teeth. Collins closes "his single staring eye" after his death. This epic encounter brings the British finally to their knees.

We observe Lloyd George in desperation asking Churchill what to do with this Collins. Churchill observes that as he is Irish, there is only one thing to do. Buy him a drink. Thus begins the Treaty negotiations. But not before Churchill is seen in conversation with Lady Lavery. He mentions that Collins will be lonely in London, and that the British government would like to know what is on his mind. He says "harumph!". Lady Lavery enquires as to whether it is her patriotic duty to go to bed with Michael Collins. Churchill turns scarlet and allows her to understand that that indeed is her duty.

Kitty turns up at the Treaty negotiations, as Michael's secretary. It becomes her fate to wait outside the Lavery household with the files recording the negotiations as Collins lies in bed with Hazel discussing conscience and country. She is restrained from storming the house of "that bitch" by Sean, Collins's body-guard, who we are to understand is in love with Collins too. Eventually the Treaty negotiations are concluded. Collins signs as Churchill, Lloyd George and Birkenhead smile. A quote from history enters the script at this point. Collins observes, "I have just signed my own death-warrant"

Events from the signing to the Civil War are sketched in deft, broad strokes. Lady Lavery is present at most of them. She observes the debacle of the treaty debates from among the delegates. She accompanies Collins to the hand over of Dublin Castle. She lies in bed with him in the Shelbourne Hotel as the Civil War guns boom and begs him not to go to Cork. But he goes. Down in the west Cork market town where as a boy he sold the pig, he meets Kitty, who has some intimation of what's to come and says goodbye to him.

Then, in The Valley Of The Mouth Of The Flowers, he is shot by an unseen gunman. But not before bellowing to the valley - "Ireland! Jaysus I love you!".

WHAT is odd about this script is, given the author's well-known anti-Nationalist views, how it seems to have sprung from the pages of a Young Ireland pamphlet, or from the Abbey stage of the 1930s under the "Irish Ireland" influence of Ernest Blythe. Its British characters are presented as crude, violent stereotypes, or as cigar-smoking, mustachioed cartoons. Collins, Griffith, Brugha, Childers, De Valera - all the leaders of the Sinn Fein movement seem wrapped in the halo of unsullied idealism.

The Volunteers are good-hearted country lads, Cuchullains of the soil, so to speak. Perhaps then, it is a deconstruction of a deconstruction - which ends up with a perfect replica of the form originally deconstructed. Then again, perhaps the dramaturgical talents of Dion Boucicault and the literary qualities of the Young Ireland pamphlets have been unfairly derided over the years and are deserving of imitation in our current, cynical post-modern era.

Either way, its relation to history, under any definition of the term, is non-existent. So there it ends. Not with a very elevated hunch of models, but a beginning nonetheless. And a basis for discussion. Discussion, after all, has to start somewhere.

NEIL JORDAN The Irish Times October 23, 1996

Hey, Eoghan Harris, lay off our film
Hey, Eoghan Harris, lay off our film

Neil Jordan's 'Michael Collins' - another film attacked by Eoghan Harris
Neil Jordan's 'Michael Collins' - another film attacked by Eoghan Harris

author by Badmanpublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 01:08Report this post to the editors

Related story at Badman's Anthem: "Eoghan Harris is a world class gimp"


Related Link: http://badmananthem.blogspot.com/2006/06/eoghan-harris-....html
author by CGuerinpublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 01:39Report this post to the editors

I understand that the Collins film was due to be made but the studio pulled out due to pressure from Coca-Cola (I think) who were the financial muscle behind them at the time.

However, Harris's script was being rewritten completely by Robert Bolt (screenwriter of Lawrence of Arabia, A Man for all Seasons, etc).

Harris wrote scripts for the TV series 'Sharpe' about a chap's jolly adventures in the Napoleonic Wars. Tally ho!

author by Johnpublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 09:48Report this post to the editors

You don't seem to understand how the capitalist free press works. Newspapers like the Sunday Independent often give space for differing points of view. All you are doing is demonstrating that one columnist on the Sunday Independent, Eoghan Harris, takes a different view on this film to another columnist on the Sunday Independent, presumably the editor. So what? That's quite normal in the Sunday Independent. They even have one columnist, Gene Kerrigan, who takes an extreme-left wing position on most topics. Contrary to what you say, its got nothing to do with the illness known as schizophrenia. Rather, its all to do with the concept of allowing publication of a wide range of views. I know its difficult for socialists to understand this concept, given that in socialist publications all contributors are expect to parrot the party line on every issue.

author by E Harispublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 13:14Report this post to the editors

Eoghan Harris main problem in his piece seemed to me that K Loach decided to be interviewed by Daily Ireland and he was on two of their front pages last week! Harris mentions D Ireland almost every week in his column he seems way to interested in the paper really!

I think a lot of people do not know that Loach is a trot.

author by Topperpublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 14:06Report this post to the editors

"its all to do with the concept of allowing publication of a wide range of views"

Of course, John, of course. That would be why, during the Afghan hunger strike, one of the hunger strikers was given a full-length column to respond to Mark Dooley's article claiming that Afghanistan is a thriving democracy. That would be why the Sindo carried a response from the hunger strikers to the claim that one of them had been a rapist and a killer in their native country.

Oh wait, that didn't happen at all, did it? Surely just a bit of absent mindedness on the editor's part...

author by Harry Wellspublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 14:08Report this post to the editors

Gee, John, not knowing how the capitalist ‘free’ press works? How remiss of me.

It seems to me you do not know how very much about anything at all. The Sunday Independent is infamous for packing out the entire paper with anti-republican rants. You write of “the concept of allowing publication of a wide range of views”. It is a Concept all right, but not the reality. Kerrigan is an exception (by a wide mark) and a fairly tame one at that (“extreme left-wing”!?). He seldom if ever transgresses the boundaries to write in opposition to the party line on the north. Kerrigan is the fig leaf hiding the relentless uniformity of opinion that hides beneath it.

The monopoly position of Independent newspapers is being threatened by competition from outside the boundaries of the state from a competitor with deep pockets. In order to gain readership identification the Mail must proclaim its ‘Irishness’ and disclaim ‘Britishness’. The Sunday Independent, which has been presenting a line essentially the same as that put by the Mail now finds itself in a quandary. It has been depicting the Mail as ‘anti-Irish’, but to expose this truism in practice the Sunday Independent merely exposes its own ‘anti-Irish’ position. The failure to mention Ruth Dudley Edwards' name was a dead giveaway - she writes the same type of material for the Sunday Independent and for the Daily Mail. Normally that is OK, but here it is an embarrassment.

The Phoenix pointed to some ‘new’ thinking on this issue – the Sunday Independent realizes that the constant harping on about Sinn Fein may actually be good for the party. The propaganda line is so shrill that few take it seriously, apart from the already convinced elite who rally behind Michael McDowell (I note that the Sunday Independent main story, with spurious ‘telephone poll’ in tow, tried to take the heat off McDowell on the Sexual age of Consent fiasco).

I suspect that the Mail threat is a factor that is framing Independent thinking.

So I agree, it is to do with capitalism, but nothing to do with freedom. Profits and maintaining, preserving and defending monopoly, and the system that supports it: they are what count. The truth and lies are but a means to an end. Each is useful in its way, but the presentation should be seamless. Sometimes, before the new agenda has time to bed down, the wrinkles show - like in yesterday's paper.

author by Johnpublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 19:44Report this post to the editors

What's this monopoly you're going on about? When I went to my newsagent yesterday there were 20 Sunday papers on sale. Sunday Independent, Sunday Tribune, Sunday Business Post, Ireland on Sunday, Sunday World, Sunday Life, Independent on Sunday, Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, News of the World, The People, Sunday Mirror etc etc. Some monopoly. Some of these newspapers have a majority of columnists who are anti-Republican. Some have a majority who are pro-Republican. That's democracy. Don't say the left-wing viewpoint isn't represented in the Irish media. Vincent Browne, Gene Kerrigan, Fintan O'Foole, Eddie Holt, Maev-Ann Wren, Tom McGurk and a host of others.

author by Harry Wellspublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 21:42Report this post to the editors

You almost managed to count all the 'left-wing' journalists on the fingers of one hand, John. Congratulations. Your group is not uniform. Vincent Browne is not a socialist, Fintan O'Toole is decidedly anti-republican, Gene Kerrigan almost never writes on the North and Eddie Holt's views are hard to find. Maeve Anne Wren writes on health and little else. Tom McGurk, why do you mention him?

The most significant is Browne because of his news sense - his Village magazine is an 'alternative' to the dominant media.

By any measure the Independent group is dominant.

The Independent group has an owner who uses his titles to pursue his economic and political interests. The only competitors with comparable resources are British conglomerates. They own most of the titles you cite.

The Independent group owns or controls:

The Sunday Independent
Sunday World
The Sunday Tribune

(And has a 50% stake in)
Star Sunday (the other 50% being held by the British Express goup)

Only one Irish Sunday newspaper is not in the Independent stable: the niche product and up-market Sunday Business Post.

During the week the Independent group owns the highest selling daily newspaper:

The Irish Independent

(And has a 50% stake in)
The Star (the other 50% being held by the British Express group)

The evening market is an Independent group monopoly with the Evening herald.

On Sunday in Ireland, the Independent group is clearly dominant. The only thing to fear is ‘Irish’ editions of British papers with far higher economies of scale, ensuring that higher production values and a lower cover price results. This is a big fear for ‘Sir’ Tony. Irish prefernce for irish media products is a plus for 'Sir' Tony, but he has the problem of masking the fact that, content wise up to now, his stuff is the same as the British stuff.

This is a right-wing newspaper group with a dominant ethos. When events important to its outlook take place, even more uniformity than normal is imposed. During the Irish Ferries dispute the Industrial correspondent was taken off the story after writing a story critical of Irish Ferries management, and a regular columnist had her column spiked for writing similarly. On the North little or any deviation from the dominant anti-republican ethos is permitted.

News is written to order, as on a production line. Woe betide any journalist who tampers with the product’s shape or content. That would be industrial sabotage and journalistic suicide. Journalists are mainly workers, working to order. To survive they have to learn to like it. There are exceptions and they prove the existence of the norm.

There is the illusion of diversity with diverse numbers of newpaper titles, but there is general uniformity of view. Different titles serve different ‘markets’ and the same elite viewpoint (that of those who own and control the media that produces them). There is no attempt to ‘serve’ the public. The public service the profit margins of media owners.

Money and marketing talk in newspaper production and circulation. Reader’s views are generally irrelevant. They do not normally count.

The profit margins of media owners are served by circulation - through sensationalism, promotion of envy, pandering to prejudice and titillation, and by deference to the system that preserves the status quo. It is hard work and not always successful, because life is full of conflict and contradiction. That’s capitalism for you.

The media does not control life, merely it provides a prism through which it may be viewed. The media promotes the dominant viewpoint, not the only one. Other views in society are reflected in political action by social and political forces and the impact this has on the social conscience. This is reflected, if it is significant, in a distorted way in the media. The media affects people, it influences them, but they are not directed by it.

So, while the media is a monopoly and it is not diverse or plural, don't be downhearted. Life is plural, the media is not.

Every now and then we get a view of the uniformity of the media, ironically as it tries to proclaim its diversity – in this case a national diversity. It is a joke, this time on them.

author by Harry Wellspublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 21:46Report this post to the editors

First sentence should read:
You almost managed to count all the 'left-wing' journalists on the fingers of one hand, John. Congratulations.

author by Johnpublication date Tue Jun 06, 2006 11:50Report this post to the editors

You have a bit of a persecution complex regarding left-wing journalists getting their point of view across. The six journalists I mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg and the best-known. I could have mentioned others if I remembered their names. But I have better things to do than memorise the names of every left-wing journalist in Ireland. For instance, there's a left-wing guy ranting in the Sunday Tribune every week. I'm sure you know who I mean, Diarmuid somebody-or-other I think? McGurk was certainly an extreme republican when I knew him at QUB in 1967. In fact, he was a Provo supporter before the Provos were formed. In addition to all the papers mentioned in my previous post, we have Daily Ireland, Irish Examiner, Irish Star, Phoenix Magazine, Hot Press, Village Idiot. Few of these publications are right-wing, as far as I know. Some of the left-wing journalists I mentioned are indeed anti-Republican (e.g. Fintan O'Foole), others are pro-Republican. This simply reflects the division of opinion among the Left generally. Some left-wing groups are anti-Republican, others are pro-Republican. That's always been the case.

author by Harry Wellspublication date Tue Jun 06, 2006 19:37Report this post to the editors

Can't remember, John, or just can't?

I thought I made it clear that I do not have a persecution complex. The media is not as important as it likes to think it is, but it is important that media hypocrisy is exposed so that people learn to read between the lines and not take everything they read for granted. People should be critical, don't you think.

Which brings us back to the point that the only reason the Sunday Independent carried the story it did about ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ is because of competition with the Mail, which carried diametrically opposed versions of the story depending on which ‘market’ the item was destined for. The Sunday Independent article was quite accurate, but left out a crucial piece of information because it would have exposed that British ‘Mail speak’ is also ‘Sindo speak’ in the normal course of events. The Harris piece is normal Sindo service.

We are not getting the full story. We are getting a partial story dictated by the competitive interests of the two newspaper groups. It is not individual journalists, left or right wing, who condition the news; it is the interests of owners. The more important the news is, the more Conformity in the presentation of news with the interests of newspaper owners. Irish Ferries coverage being merely one case in point. Making it up with regard to Afghan refugees being another more recent example. Pandering to racism, sexism, not a problem – unless people stand up and make it one.

How about it John – want to object real examples of distortion and censorship, or do you just want to head down a ‘who are the lefties’ cul-de-sac?

author by Seanpublication date Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:38Report this post to the editors

So the Sindo published a story attacking the Mail and a column by Harris. So what? I don't like the paper much but it seems to me that people are getting a bit mixed up. Harris is entitled to his opinions as a columnist is he not? And presumbaly a normal newspaper would not have to tell their columnists that they have a story which takes a different position. As for Dudley Edwards, whom I cannot stomach (but again she is entitled to her rants), surely the Sindo is entitled to attack the Mail - after all at least the Sindo prints its dodgy opinions in all editions - and does not try to hide them from one particular part of the audience. Which is what the Mail did. Which is wrong.Which was the point of the Sindo piece as far as I can gather.

author by Reply to Johnpublication date Wed Jun 07, 2006 13:07Report this post to the editors

Irish Examiner and The Star (!) are in fact right wing.

Village and Daily Ireland are left wing Ok, and the Phoenix is kind off left wing, however their circulation is pretty small compared to the mainstream corporate media.

the Irish media is almost totally controlled by Independent/O'Reilly and their generla view is right wing...there is no debate about this really?

is there?

author by Harry Wellspublication date Mon Jun 12, 2006 01:13Report this post to the editors

More conflicting messages from today's Sindo on The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Eoghan Harris review:

"By and large, the Black and Tans were no angels. But the failure to allow a major British character a complex moral response to the war in Ireland is a major artistic and political flaw of this film.

And it is bad history too. There were many decent British soldiers on duty - my grandfather Pat Harris was arrested by one such young officer - and there were even decent Black and Tans, as my Roscommon relatives remembered. Laverty should have stood up to Loach and demanded the right to include at least one conflicted British character.

Liam Cunningham, who plays Irish Citizen Army character:

"And for anyone to question the historical accuracy in the film - they need a good kicking! I mean, you should see some of the stuff that they left out.

There was an order from a Major Grant who was in charge of Macroom at the time, they have the original papers that the order was written on and it said that every man they saw standing with his hands in his pockets had to be shot. That was the level of oppression at the time. I mean, they burnt Cork, for God's sake. "

Letter Sunday Tribune 11 June 2006
Letter Sunday Tribune 11 June 2006

author by Shanepublication date Wed Jun 21, 2006 00:38Report this post to the editors

The Examiner is right wing? I read the paper a number of times and cannot see where you get that perspective from. It is, in my opinion, slightly left of centre. It reminds me of the Fianna Fail party, aspires to be republican and socialist when it suits them, but also quick to wear more right wing clothes if the occasion suits. It is quite a conservative paper, but this does not make it a right wing paper.

author by ?@€publication date Wed Jun 21, 2006 01:20Report this post to the editors

Daily Ireland left-wing? No Daily Ireland is Sinn Fein's daily newspaper, and far from left wing it is a sectarian rag.
Village left wing? Liberal yes, left-wing no and Vincent Browne's canonisation of Haughey re-inforces it is not left wing.

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