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Search words: infiltration

Shell to Sea Hack Job by Maeve Sheehen

category national | anti-capitalism | news report author Monday September 22, 2008 16:17author by Soundmigration - WSM per cap Report this post to the editors

O Reilly's Rag at it again, some deconstruction

At this stage its unsurprising in the least to read Royal Dutch Shell propoganda being presented as "journalism" by the Irish Independent and its stable mate, the Sunday Indo. Most readers of this site will be only too aware that the paper's owner 'Sir' Tony O Reilly has a very practical and profitable interest in the vast amounts of oil and gas of the West coast of Ireland.

However even by the hack standards of journalism, and right wing opinions, that grace the paper, yesterdays piece by Maeve Sheehan suggest not just the usual biased and unnuaced 'presentation of facts' but has an almost willful ignorance of the facts on the ground. Combined with a willingness to present Shell and Police PR without any simple background checks or colloratory evidence over such an 'extensive' (read: its got a big word count) this article would be most useful for any who sought a practical example of what Noam Chomsky describes as the 'manufacturing of consent'

At this stage its unsurprising in the least to read Royal Dutch Shell propoganda being presented as "journalism" by the Irish Independent and its stable mate, the Sunday Indo. Most readers of this site will be only too aware that the paper's owner 'Sir' Tony O Reilly has a very practical and profitable interest in the vast amounts of oil and gas of the West coast of Ireland.

However even by the hack standards of journalism, and right wing opinions, that grace the paper, yesterdays piece by Maeve Sheehan suggest not just the usual biased and unnuaced 'presentation of facts' but has an almost willful ignorance of the facts on the ground. Combined with a willingness to present Shell and Police PR without any simple background checks or colloratory evidence over such an 'extensive' (read: its got a big word count) this article would be most useful for any who sought a practical example of what Noam Chomsky describes as the 'manufacturing of consent'

Perhaps more simple put Sheehan’s piece is a singular and clumsy attempt at a hatchet job, both as a personal attack on Maura Harrington and on the growing Shell to Sea campaign. The story is laced with factual inaccuracies, cynical innuendo and is strikingly void of any voices from the local community that have consistently been harassed and beaten by both private security forces and the police themselves.

Whilst is might give more oxygen to Sheehan’s butt lazy style of critical journalism, I thought it might be useful to go through the piece paragraph by paragraph to tease out its underlying bais and its peppering of illusion and misreprentation. I’ll post a link to the full article below


“MAURA Harrington should have been enjoying her first week of retirement from her job teaching children at Inver National School in Mayo last week. Instead, she was on hunger strike. Hardly normal behaviour for a pillar of the community in the rural north Mayo village. But locals are used to such extreme behaviour from the 55-year-old gaelgeoir who, as spokeswoman for the Shell to Sea campaign, has led the protests against Shell EP Ireland's plans to bring gas onshore.”

1 So just what is normal about the situation of navy battle ships, a corporation whose total ‘economy’ is bigger than that of Ireland, a deal signed off by a finance minister without a bank account(Ahern) and Ray Burke, and 11 million euros spent on police overtime in the area.

2 Just how are ‘locals used to such extreme behaviour” – no qualifying just printed.

3 Without speaking for Ms Harrington, I’m sure she would agree that she has not ‘lead the protests’ at all, but has played a significant role within the campaign as have many others. However is ‘normal’ for those doing media to be labeled the leader. What this does is disguise the fact that this is a popular and open campaign without leaders

She comtinues

“When a ship arrived last month to begin laying pipes that would bring gas from the Corrib field onshore at Mayo, protesters took to their kayaks and Maura Harrington declared she would starve herself to death if it didn't leave.

Embedded in her car parked at the gates of Shell's compound at Glengad for 11 days, she claimed that not a morsel of food had passed her lips. Her only concession was water mixed with salt. By day, she made occasional visits to use a neighbour's washing facilities, when necessary. By night, she wrapped up in her car. "I have a delightful, gorgeous woolly blanket that was given to me by a neighbour of mine who makes gorgeous soft woolens. Her label is Fastnet, so you could give her a plug," she said last week. "I sleep quite contentedly."

Her hunger strike ended at 3pm on Friday after the Solitaire was dispatched from Irish waters. It didn't seem to matter that retreat of the Solitaire had to nothing to do with Maura's fast. The ship was damaged during pipe laying, had been resting in Donegal, and on Thursday was sent for repairs to Scotland. That didn't stop Maura and Shell to Sea from claiming the intervention of "Divine Grace".

1 There is no indication whatsoever that the Solitiare was ‘damaged during pipe laying”. In fact it clear that this is a cobbled together ‘fact’. Much rumour and speculation surrounds just how the Solitiare got damaged. For days there was nothing from the ships owners Allseas Ltd or Shell about just how did a ship, the one of a kind in the world costing over 1 million a day to hire, and having had weeks to prepare suddenly ‘get damaged’. Contrary to the spin put out by Shell, the seas where very calm on the day of the breakage. More significantly, it is only AFTER an announcement by Shell, fulfilling the demands of Ms Harrington requiring Shell to make explicit the intentions of the Solitiare as it idled of the Donegal coast, that first mention of pipe laying causing this damage surfaced. As yet, and contrary to Shells own statements, no pipes have been layed, or subsequently retrieved from the sea bed.

2 Its entirely speculation about the exact whys and hows of the Solitiares retreat. One could equally argue this was a deliberate sabotage by the corporations involved, the most easiest and face saving way out of a PR disaster. The crew and master of the Solitiare had been given plenty of notice from sea based activists that any attempts to lay pipes would be effectively blocked. And anyone with any ideas of water based policing could see that the Gardia have neither the training, skills or desire to police such actions safely or confidently. The farcical and embarrassing use of Irish Navy gunboats against civilian protesters clearly illustrated the collective effectiveness of the protests , but ultimately where compounding the PR disaster for Shell and the government. Given the ease of use of superlative’s like ‘extreme’ throughout the piece, its illustrating that no mention of the Irish navy’s involvement is to be found.

However more extreme stuff worth printing is

“Such extremes are par for the course in what has become one of the longest-running civil protests in recent history. Shell plans to pipe gas from the Corrib field, bring it onshore at Glengad beach and feed it through pipes that cross nine kilometres of land to a refinery, currently under construction in Bellanaboy.

The Government, corporate Ireland and Fine Gael support the plans. Ireland is fast running out of gas and imports more than 80 per cent of supplies from the UK. The community is divided. Some want the Shell development. Others -- protesters claim a majority -- don't. There are concerns over pollution of the water supply, health hazards, risk of landslides, destruction of natural habitat and the environment.”

1 ‘The Government, corporate Ireland and Fine Gael support the plans. Ireland is fast running out of gas and imports more than 80 per cent of supplies from the UK.” It reads as if these two statements, both factually correct, are in some way related. Essentially the first statement says the elites of the country favour the project. That is a statement that comes preloaded with underlying assumptions. The second, in its own right, shows the intellectual trapeze work amongst the elite, and one would assume the author. Ireland is NOT fast running out of gas. We have Loads of it of the coast of Ireland.


Some More......

“Local protest galvanised around five farmers who refused to allow the pipeline to cross their land. When they were jailed in 2005 for flouting a court injunction to stop diggers on their property, they gained hero status. The campaign to Free the Rossport Five became the Shell to Sea campaign. Its stated aim at that time was to get Shell to process the gas offshore, with minimal disruption to the environment, and away from the local community.

What began as a legitimate local protest has become a magnet for international eco-warriors, rebels in search of a cause, and political groups in search of a platform. The initial demand that gas processing take place off shore has grown into an argument about who should control Ireland's natural resources. Shell to Sea branches have cropped up everywhere from Dublin to Belfast to Germany. The Rossport Solidarity Camp hosts visiting eco-warriors and agitators bussed or ferried in from abroad”

1 The unstated allusion here is that Shell to Sea has moved being a ‘legimate’ campaign to an ‘illegitate one. Recent history has shown that there is always a need within media to paint ‘good protestor’ versus ‘bad protestor’. There is however no evidence to suggest that those partaking in the campaign are ‘in search of a cause’. This is just dumb assed lazy hack speak. Even my granny knows that eco-warrior is so ten years ago!!! The idea that the Rossport five where anything but (good) agitators, acting in genuine response to the capitulation of self serving elites in government is a singular mistelling of history. Though I again am reluctant to use labels, the idea that only ‘locals’ (that vast and empty catch all used more as a device than an illuminating term but most journo’s covering this) have legitimate concerns is a misrepretation of facts. Why else do shell to sea groups exist nationally?


Bring on the Bogeymen........

“A demonstration in November last year ended with one of the ugliest clashes yet between gardai and protesters. There were claims of republican infiltration of the cause. Two of those arrested were members of a fledgling group of revolutionary socialists and disaffected former Sinn Fein members now in a group called Eirigi. Founded in 2006, its aims include a 32-county Ireland, the nationalisation of natural resources and it supports the people's right to "armed struggle in the correct context" (although not in the present climate, points out its chairman, Brian Leeson).

They were Dominic McGlinchy, the son of the late and notorious INLA leader, and Robert Jackson, a former IRA prisoner who served 20 years on an explosives offence and was released under the Good Friday Agreement. They were each given the Probation Act for blocking a public thoroughfare at the sit-down protest.

Another Eirigi member, Brendan McKenna, a veteran of Catholic protests against Orange Order marches on the Garvaghy Road, was also there that day, advising protesters”.

“If Shell is to believed, there is also a rogue guerrilla element amongst the protesters. Last Sunday night, a soft drink bottle was filled with petrol, attached to a clock and a can of paint and left in a carrier bag outside Shell's headquarters on Leeson Street in Dublin. The device wasn't rigged. Had it exploded, it had the potential to kill or cause considerable damage. Shell linked the device to the Corrib protest, describing at as a "sinister development", to the anger of all the protest groups, who not only denied having anything to do with it but criticised the stunt. Nor have gardai found evidence of a link. They suspect it was the work of a maverick who planted the crude device as a sick prank or publicity stunt”

1 Now we get to the real Bogeymen and extremists. Guerillas in the mist. This is a repetition of a claim that Republican are somehow directing the protests against Shell. However the first sentence actually does represent a truth
“A demonstration in November last year ended with one of the ugliest clashes yet between gardai and protesters.”

What Sheenan forgets to expand is the massively excessive use of police violence, the numerous and very obvious injuries received by protestors. Lets not forget, the cops where given baton to beat the shit out of protestors. They have subsequently been up in court, and clearly have questions to answer about perjury (much of this has been covered on indymedia before elsewhere). However, as usual, the media focus get skewed on to the “scary others” be it the ‘anarchists’ or if you want a biggy who better that ‘dissident republicans’.

I’m not sure how Eirigi feel about the exposé, but sure all publicity is good publicity eh. More seriously though, the implication is clear. Voilent extremists have infiltrated the campaign and sure good help the lofty but simple locals, sure they don’t know whats going on.
So whilst linking arrested individuals with past alleged crimes we find out that down in Rossport they where arrested for, shock horror, sitting on the road. Luckily that day, as protestors avoided getting thrown into a ditch, or a whack around the ear by police battens, Brendan mc Kenna was on hand dispense ‘advice’. There are unconfirmed rumours that Mc Kenna was telling protestors to “fold you coat and put it under your bum to keep it dry and warm during the sit down” however Eirigi where unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

To clarify its pretty easy to see what role political parties or group play in directing Shell to Sea
From there website
“Shell to Sea is an international non violent campaign, rooted in the Erris community. We seek to ensure the proposed Corrib gas terminal and pipeline are constructed offshore, as is best practice. In doing so we seek to highlight the negligent environmental, health, safety, planning and economic consequences of this government backed plan. We are not the property of any party or movement and we disassociate ourselves from negative campaigning and tactics that many media outlets have attempted to associate us with. We have been campaigning for several years and continue to face intimidation, slander and significant hardship as a result.However, we are growing in strength, numbers and confidence. We will remain peaceful, committed and determined in the coming days, weeks months - and years if necessary!”

2 But back to the article…..

Not content with attempting to distort the role of individuals within Shell to Sea who are members of political groups ( whilst those on the other side seem almost exclusively members of political groups FF, FF, the Greens Labour, but whats another indo contradiction) Sheenan now repeats last Monday’s claims from the Head of Communication at Shell that supporters planted a bomb outside Shell’s Hq on Leeson Street.

Worthy of a full investigation itself but perhaps with a journalist style slighty more robust than found at either Indo's, the circumstances and spin around this device is murky to say the least. This story broke late Monday evening, yet made it into the first print run of the Irish Times for Tuesday morn. The piece was written by Ronan Mc Greevy, and his piece carries information later contradicted, but nor corrected.

From his piece
he writes

“The bomb, which was defused by the Army bomb disposal squad, was described by an Army spokesman as "viable, home-made, crude and highly-dangerous. It could have seriously injured or harmed somebody if somebody had handled it," the spokesman said”

No either this unnamed spokeperson was given some dodgy information by those who actually checked the device. However one is unsure how a “soft drink bottle was filled with petrol, attached to a clock and a can of paint and left in a carrier bag” as it later transpired to be, could be dealt with by a controlled explosion without making a lot of noise, or without making a pretty obvious mess with paint. No paint stains where to be found around Corrib house early on Tuesday morning. Shell aren’t the only ones to view this as a ‘sinister development’ and the question about who has the most to gain in the ‘discovery’ and planting of ‘bombs’ goes begging. Is it possible to imagine a attempt to discredit a campaign and deflect more and more public involvement by agents of the state or shell actually being involved in such activites.

A fourteen year old ‘journalist’ would see this as perhaps an obvious question to ask or at the very least a possibility to explore, but not for Sheehan, as perhaps the ‘contacts’ a journalist might have could dry up very quickly by asking the wrong questions. Given the boss is O Reilly, I’d imagine the pay checks would dry up very quickly too.

However possibly its is because such framing of the issue is actually “dangerous”. Heaven forbid that the most striking and obvious intuitions get followed up. But Sheehen chooses to be very specific with her intuitions. The guards think it was a ‘prankster’ now, well maybe, but what do you think Maeve? Don’t worry, take the money and don’t let your imagination or faith in your sources run.


Now for a bit of divide and conquer, lets paint a picture of a community at war with itself, even if the quotes don’t fit the spin in between

“John Monaghan, a former Shell to Sea leading light who is married to a daughter of Michael O Seighin, one of the Rossport Five, is its spokesman. Unlike Shell to Sea, the group doesn't engage in acts of civil disobedience.

"Last November there was a lot of protest and unrest at Bellanaboy, violence from the gardai, pushing and shoving. That was taking away from the health and safety aspects of what we were about. A lot of people felt that that was going down a road that was probably unnecessary. We never set out as a community to be in confrontation with anyone, especially gardai," said Monaghan.

"Our primary goal as a community is to ensure the health and safety and integrity of the people of the parish and the environment we live in. The only difference between ourselves and Shell to Sea is that Shell to Sea is also

driving for natural resources. There are still a number of people in the area who are supportive of both groups. Some people would say that there is a split, friction, that kind of thing but not really because the two sides complement each other."

Maura Harrington, of Shell to Sea, suggested otherwise. When the Sunday Independent raised Pobal Cill Chomain's claim that the majority of the community backed moving the refinery to Glinsk, she declined to comment. "They claim to speak for the majority of people of the parish," she said. "But I would ask you to discuss that with Pobal Cill Chomain. I I have no comment to make on the matter."

Asked if she would support the move to Glinsk, she declined to engage in "speculation", as Shell has already ruled that proposal out.

John Monaghan makes it very clear that he see’s no conflict and both groups compliment and support each other. But attempting to sow divisions, Sheehan attempts to misrepresent the ‘no comment’ of a woman on hungerstrike as some how a division. Lets be very clear who it would suit for this division to appear. Its clear that there a is a certain amount of fluidity between both groups and are mutually supportive of each other actions. Sheehan tells the story he boss would like to hear, and would like other to believe, regardless of the facts on the ground, and regardless of the printed quotes she uses.

Sheenan articles now decends into farce and statire ,and is one of the few pieces I’ read that reads like a sketch from “Todays the Day” or “Brasseye”

“While the protest lobby groups might play down divisions, there is little doubt that the Corrib gas pipeline has had an ugly impact on the entire community. There have been allegations of intimidation of Shell workers. Paddy Cosgrove, a former Fianna Fail councillor who complained of intimidation to gardai, claimed that local people were afraid to speak out.

Gardai have been accused of heavy-handedness, claims denied by Superintendent John Gilligan. "The policing of this dispute is not easy but as much as possible people involved in the protest are given the opportunity to carry out a peaceful and lawful protest," he said. "In general with regard to certain criticisms, I would say we carry out our duties taking into account the rights of all concerned. I am very proud of the dedication and efforts of members of An Garda Siochana who work with me in policing this dispute."

Gardai have also received a battering. Last Sunday, at a solidarity rally for Maura Harrington's hunger strike organised by Shell to Sea, about 88 set off in convoy along the roads of Erris. Tempers flared when four gardai sitting in their unmarked car were spotted videoing the convoy. Two cars pulled in front and behind the garda car, effectively hemming it in. Protesters surrounded it. The car was jostled from side to side and allegedly, attempts were made to open the doors. Six local people were arrested last week.

Now that Shell has postponed its pipe-laying and Maura Harrington has called off her hunger strike, Michael D Higgins, the President of the Labour Party, called on the Government to use that window to bring "peace to Mayo". It is a sentiment shared by local Belmullet priest and columnist, Fr Kevin Hegarty. "My general impression is that most people in the community accept that the project is going to go ahead. Some accept it enthusiastically. Some people who are neutral sense that it's going to happen anyway. Then you have people from the community who are working on the construction of it or providing services, and who are quite happy about the whole matter."

1 So whilst making reference to divisions she herself has manufactured for the reader, she makes a really banal statement about the impact it has on the community. Not as you’d expect about the disruption through police intimidation, continual roadblocks, water pollution, prison, the publically announced strategy of minimal pressing of charges of those ‘arrested’ and the growing litany of personal injuries, as well as increasing levels of political policing. John Gilligan is full of shit, and stands shoulder to shoulder in carrying out a policy of maximum harassment minimal charges, something Sheehan is either unaware off or not interested in. How is it possible for a journo to carry a piece like this an not find even one person willing to speak about their own experience of police brutality, yet jump straight to a refutation from Gilligan. He’s proud of the “efforts and dedication” of his underlings. Does he forget it’s the 11 million of our tax money that buys their “dedication”. No mention of that either eh Maeve?

2 As someone who was on the solidarity rally last Sunday, it worth pointing out a few inaccuracies about the situation re the undercover branch officers. It was pretty clear the 4 special Branch where in the blue Dublin reg’ed Mondeo, and where following the trail of cars. As the procession of about 80 odd cars did a loop around the roads passing Ms Harringtons house, the cops saw an opportunity to move up towards the front and inserted themselves, at speed and disregard for the braking cars behind them, into the front end of the procession of cars, about perhaps between 5-10 cars from the front.

The procession halted, and members of the public got out of there cars and several approached the branch car, and asked to speak to them. People asked that they wind down the window and tell them why they where being followed, why they where being filmed and that they felt the police actions amounted to harassment and further intimidation of the local community as the completed a solidarity drive in support of Ms Harrington
“Two cars pulled in front and behind the garda car, effectively hemming it in. “

This sentence is a complete fabrication on behalf of either Sheehen or her sources, or both. As noted above, the garda car inserted itself, one would imagine so that it would have a better sense of where the car rally was going. As they clearly coudnt feed back information to base control and probably felt a bit foolish havingI sat and filmed every car and family as they left from the meeting point Its hard to know why there was subsequent arrests, but they completely refused to engage with members of the public asking them to explain their activites and erratic driving, and ultimately dont like people acting in ways that are fearless of the imtimidatory tactics of filming young children and families. There was a sense of justifiable anger in the air, and its clear that people where not going to be intimidated by dangerous driving plain clothes garda who refused to identify themselves to an enquiring public
Again with 80 cars driving, mostly with families its funny that Sheehan couldn't find any voices to describe what really happened other than the spin coming from garda sources.

All in all another sorry tale. I guess one shouldn't be too hard on Sheehan and given much of the what goes for 'coverage' this piece is b no means the worse from of spin and misrepresentation

But perhaps that is exactly the piont. if this article is something that the author and editors see a something relatively balanced than it clear how out of set our media objectively is.

Related Link: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/a-plea-for-calm-on-the-unquiet-sea-1479279.html#tertiaryColumn
author by newsmedia - newsmedianewspublication date Mon Sep 22, 2008 20:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Come on now, surely you don't seriously expect clean, factual and honest reporting from the Irish Independent group?

Don't your remember the ILDA train union fiasco? Despite having reported for the UK Independent newspaper group for many years, good old Irish Independent rang me up at 8.30 one morning to berate me for the article and to try to tell me their view of events as if it was gospel.

"Are you going to write what we know or what you want" was one comment from the caller, the news editor in the days of Vincent Browne.

I resolved never again to send any reports to the Independent. After all, for a poor journalist, it is a waste of toilet paper.

author by cyclopspublication date Mon Sep 22, 2008 21:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The media are employed and gagged by their affluent advertisers.
Many government employees are also gagged.
When your hand is in the dog's mouth you must pull gently.

Related Link: http://www.taranetwork.org
author by observerpublication date Mon Sep 22, 2008 23:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Conor Lally's piece in the Review section of the Irish Times has somewhat the same flavour following his visit to Erris last week. He refers only to Garda sources giving him information on republican presence. I am from the North and have spent hours and hours and hours in Erris and other than the voice of a woman from Derry married locally for 40 years I have not once heard a Northern accent. Perhaps there was the quick visit but do you know that the Belfast Agrrement has been signed and in spite of its searchings the Independent Monitoring Commission has annually declared nothing much amiss. Remarking on a middle class Dublin accent is a discriminatory remark. After that it was a source from Cork and a kayaker from the UK ... not one local and the place was full of them. They surrounded Maura day and night so were not inaccesible and invisible. A very deliberate skew. I stand to be corrected.

author by bad protesterpublication date Tue Sep 23, 2008 00:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's hardly news that the mainstream media print lies and slanted coverage. Irish Republicans have seen this over the years and gotten used to it, but even within the Shell to Sea campaign, it's hardly a new development as this article from 2006 shows :


EXCERPT: The Sunday Times has also been particularly hostile. Despite the fact the campaign was named "Shell To Sea" long before the jailing of the Rossport Five, the paper has repeatedly claimed that the demand for an offshore refinery arose later, courtesy of subversive infiltrators. In July of this year, an editorial complained that the "original requests for safety assurances about the pipeline have given way to extravagant demands that Shell build a new terminal to carry out gas processing offshore". They put this down to "infiltration of the Mayo protests by Sinn Féin activists, self-styled eco warriors and professional protesters".

So I think it's a bit naive to get het up about the Indo at this stage, or did you think all those stories about the IRA were true?

author by soundmigrationpublication date Tue Sep 23, 2008 09:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The piece isnt written from a personal perspective of being annoyed or wound up by the original piece by Maeve Sheehan. Waving my arms around or sitting down cycnical are two possible reactions but neither very useful. i dont pretend that this piece intorduces the idea of media bias to indymedia readers. what it attempts to do is show how it goes about framing the issue in a particular way, has glaring ommission etc etc.

It might not be new to everyone but it not reason enough not to have a go at it

author by .publication date Tue Sep 23, 2008 13:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ring the journalist - complain to their editor - send them on wild goose chases - waste their time

they break the social contract of fairness and accuracy - then those affected can break the social contract - supply them with useless as opposed to useful information - waste a half a day of their lives

author by Miriam Cottonpublication date Tue Sep 23, 2008 18:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Of course everyone knows that media bias is not new: that does not mean it should go unchallenged whenever and wherever it occurs. Shell's modus operandi is not new to anyone familiar with oil/gas company activities the world over but that doesn't mean it would be 'naive' to remark on its behaviour in specific contexts. The media have been one of the most effective weapons in Shell's campaign in Mayo. It would be idiotically naive not to expose Irish media complicity in this outrage at every possible opportunity.

author by angel - local living awaypublication date Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In response to 'soundmigration' ; well done on your breakdown and analysis of that biased and weak piece of journalism in last weeks Indo by Maeve Sheehan. It is a pity that you can't get a similar response letter published?
I read it in disbelief at the obvious twist it was trying to achieve, perhaps the pressure is on these journalist to produce such one-sided articles but when does the journalist own pride in what they do or a sense of their obligation to write the truth come into it?
It is unfortunate that so many of our politions and journalists lack courage and passion and are so easily institionalised!

author by Johnjopublication date Wed Sep 24, 2008 16:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As an outsider who supported the Rossport issue from the outset, and as somebody who lives in the west of Ireland, I actually that the article gave a pretty good view of the situation a seen by someone coming into the area to see what was happening. I don't think that it was particularly unfair to anyone, either Shell or the local community.
The people of North Mayo need to take a lesson from this article, and not just rubbish it as Shell propoganda. Clearly, if Shell wanted to use a journalist to write a puff piece for them, they wouldn't need to send a journalist down to Mayo to do it. I know I will raise hackles by saying this, but maybe, just maybe, the views of the journalist actually represent the way in which people who are not actually involved in the dispute view this whole situation.
So, insted of slamming the journalist, could people stand back and ask themselves, is this how people perceive the situation in North Mayo? Have we lost the support of the middle ground, possibly because of the perception that the campaign has been hijacked by people who have other agendas?
As I said, I supported this campaign at the early stages, but not any more. I agree that Shell is a nasty outfit, and that our national gass assets were given away by a minster who was subsequently found to be corrupt. However the fact remains that Ireland inc did a deal with Shell on this, and are contractually bound by it, so there is no point in trying to row back the tide and pretend that this deal wasn't done. Any other approach is unrealistic pipe dreaming.
I also have concerns about some of the political rejects from Norn Iron who seem to have their own agenda here, and I would have to comment that if a person lies down with dogs, they stand a good chance of getting up with fleas. I would personally prefer to avoid that particular itch.
So, in summary, don't shoot the messenger, listen to the message and maybe learn something from it. I doubt if most people will though.

author by Squirrelpublication date Wed Sep 24, 2008 18:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors


just to clarify a few important points,

1. Lots of governments have renegotiated oil and gas deals, the most recent being Putin of russia followed by chavez of Venezuala also Bolivia. Even Mrs Palin of Alaska renegotiated a pipeline deal .

2. All we are asking for is a just amount of the profits be given to the people. So in effect we are asking for an increase in the amount of tax taken from these ventures. The government changes tax rates up and down all the time especially VAT, it also invents new forms of tax, so its not unreasonable to ask for a change in tax for gas sales.

3. The deals done by criminals are not binding on the people of Ireland.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Wed Sep 24, 2008 19:14author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

You are expecting newspapers to produce fair and unbiased reporting. Those days are effectively gone in Ireland, as is the day of the intrepid investigative reporter. Newspapers are linked to Party politics. There simply isn't time allotted by news editors - and by management - to the pursuit of in-depth unbiased news. Much easier, and simpler all round, to accept what 'authorities' state as fact, type the piece up and move on. On top of this (which is governed by purely commercial diktats) you have the clear fact that newspapers such as The Sunday Independent, for one, (remember Fianna Fáil's visit to Sir Anthony's place, cap in hand?) are governed by a certain politics: in their case the Right-wing and reactionary politics of post-Thatcherite business-before-beliefs Ireland. The Irish Times, who have cut all their (for instance) 'robust' reviewers - whom they defended only a few years ago - now toe a flagging PD line. In both cases the Shell to Sea campaign would be seen as a revolt by uneducated and even additional foreign yobs against the good and progressive forces of unbridled monopoly and self-interest which fueled the now-terminal Celtic Tiger. Arguably, and sadly, neither would be concerned terribly to note that one of our country's only assets was sold away in dubious and morally repugnant deals; a company such as Shell can only be good. Any attempt to thwart the rebirth of an admittedly smaller Tiger in Ireland is almost by definition subversive and bad. When Joe Duffy's 'Liveline' recently permitted ordinary Irish people to express their fears about the economy, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan was quick to contact RTE and express his own displeasure - not at the state of the Fianna Fáil-doomed economy, but at the programme which had permitted frightened people to air their views. Biffo Cowen looks bad in polls over the holidays; the first 'Late Late Show' of the new RTE season features . . . Brian Cowen, as Everyman. RTE toeing the line. Tell me it isn't true.

author by Johnjopublication date Wed Sep 24, 2008 19:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Best chance of renegotiating, if it is ever going to be possible, is when the gas is flowing. At the moment, given that their contract has no late penalty for delivery of gas to shore, Shell is holding all the cards.
As for the Irish people not being liable for deals done by criminals, where have you been the last twenty years? Without going into specifics, why do you think that so many public private type deals are so heavily weighted in favour of the operators? Could the fact that Ireland was governed from a tent in Ballybrit for many years have anything to do with it?
If people dealt with what is, instead of what they would like things to be, then we could make progress.
Bottom line though, is that the Sunday Indo article represents what the majority of people in Ireland think of the Rossport situation. The people involved in the dispute would be better served by taking a long hard look at themselves and then dealing with the reality instead of the pipe dream. Maeve Sheehan has done them a favour, if they could only see it.

author by soundmigrationpublication date Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Tne main reason i took this piece apart is precisely because it is one of the less tabloid extreme and lenghty articles that has been published recently. It could be described as 'more balanced, more fair' etc solely because of the durge of direct state, cop, and shell PR that most papers have been printing

Its exactly because of this that i felt it was important to look at the substantive content and well as its framing tone that sets the readers orientation.
"just maybe, the views of the journalist actually represent the way in which people who are not actually involved in the dispute view this whole situation"

i dont dispute this a a real possibilty at all. It precisely for that reason that i'm holding a light to this particular journalists glaring omissions. Much indeed is perhaps an unawareness of what a grassroots/community movemen "looks like" and as such the article does nothing to illumiate the reader about that. I have also piont our genuine inaccuracies, and misrepresentation. I'm less concerned about wether this is the journalist truly help belief or not. Essentailly we are dealing with a hybrid of an opinion piece and news item. If the factual stuff that is correct is embeddeded in rehashing old ghost stories that where wrong the first time, repeating the mantra of good protestor bad protestor, and being afraid to represent the real stories of police repression at the same time as providing a platform for two deniers, then it is only fair to question and highloght the failings of this 'balanced' piece

The reason 'the middle ground' has been lost has been due to a significant media blackout this past 6-8 months. Ongoing police aggression just isnt a runner. However EVERYTIME the media , usually in a response to Shell upping the PR, the question of 'outside agitators' or extremeist or those with 'another agenda'.

Shell are a Dutch Firm, most of the security on site is what most journos are happy to peg as outsiders when it comes to immigration. Shell to Sea is a (inter)nationaly supported campaign. Whats the problem? Shell are a multinational company, one of the biggest in the world. They arent some home growm family business with roots in the community....The argument that folks from outside the area (whats the plan - protestors are only valid if they live if the danger zone of a pipeline explosions, or are likely to be inhaling the pollutued air from the refinery, or drinking the contamintated water) is plain nonsense for more than one reason.

the most obvious and simple one is that of SOLIDARITY.

Solidarity is a basic concept, but also one of the most powerful tools human being have. Solidarity, (like journalism), is not neutral, even though it at times can be passive.

" I agree that Shell is a nasty outfit, and that our national gass assets were given away by a minster who was subsequently found to be corrupt. However the fact remains that Ireland inc did a deal with Shell on this, and are contractually bound by it, so there is no point in trying to row back the tide and pretend that this deal wasn't done. Any other approach is unrealistic pipe dreaming".

Your obviously smater than this, or have little to no understanding how power , either 'power to' or 'power over'.
If a 'deal' has been done that is directly dangerous and distructive to the local community, and indirectly dangerous to thsoe who will die in the future becasue resources 'Ireland inc' have given away cant be spent o health, education and moving to post carbon society. Basically you are suggesing that corrupt politicains or undemocratic market forces rule us, thats our lots and we should all just lie down together and let them get on with the job of environmental destruction and downgrading peoples capactiy to shape the world we live in.

the idea that humanity will lie down in the face of corporate greed, and power hungry politicain is in itself a pipe dream.

"I also have concerns about some of the political rejects from Norn Iron who seem to have their own agenda here, and I would have to comment that if a person lies down with dogs, they stand a good chance of getting up with fleas. I would personally prefer to avoid that particular itch."

If i was marking your 'essay' as a school teacher i'd say expand. just what do ya mean. Who and what are the political reject from the north and what are their agenda. There is a very strong emotional content to all this yapping but very little substance..please give the indymedia readers some insight instead of just repeating very old lines at this stage.

Personaly i have no truck with republicanism, and i think much of what passes for republican socialism in this country is ill thought out and not going anywhere. Much organised 'dissident' armed republicanism is caught in a historical bind that has repeated itself many many times over the last 150 years.

None of this has ANY bearing on Shell to Sea, but does provide useful vague mud to fling, simply because Shell to Sea is EFFECTIVE and suggests something that the rich and powerful multinational, and gombeen politicians always fear and that is the threat of a good example.

Most journalists have little to no understanding of grassroots movements, based as they are without leaders, without political parties, based in solidarity and self activity. much easier to throw out the bogey man shite. maybe you believe that line cos you read it alot.
maybe thats why its much more important to challenge the 'balanced pieces' that the obviously nutty ones

author by bin tax veteranpublication date Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think that the point that the Indo article (which was by no means the worst article on Shell to Sea since the campaign began) is a reasonable snapshot of how a casual viewer might see the issues and personalities involved is an okay one.

The secondary point that that activists should try to learn from negative media is fair enough too.

Whether stuff like newspapers and mainstream media create or reflect public opinion is a very different matter, and would require a bit more analysis, but this isn't a seminar on the media, and is maybe a bit more than could be expected from someone who is obviously writing off the top of their head.

So your point is fairly perceptive, for what it's worth.

You let yourself down when the best you can come up with is - "So why don't you run for election..?"

Is that really the only way you can see to stop this appalling project?

Why would anyone in their right mind vote for a single issue candidate who had no views on other matters? Even if they felt strongly about an issue, a voter with a memory would know that single issue candidates (or hospital candidates as political hacks sometimes call them) never achieve the goal they are elected for.


author by squirrelpublication date Thu Sep 25, 2008 17:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors


I'm fully aware of the how we govern ourselves in this country with our ballybrit tents, brown envelopes, corrupt politicians property developers etc...etc...etc.... It doesn't mean I have to accept it or obey it. I'm involved in campaigns like Shell to Sea precisely for this reason. I'm under no illusions that I will change the world by next week or save ireland from the gombeen men tomorrow. If you want to be fatalistic and accept it fine but you shouldn't be slating others for trying to improve things.

I don't believe that this independent article we're speaking of is the view of the majority of people in this country. I speak to people about this all the time both in my work and social life which cross over many socio economic divides. I experience mostly two views . View number one is the "fair play to ye your right but I havn't got either the time or the inclination to get involved" or two "I don't really care about the pipeline, it has to be built so as long as its not near me I don't care, but i do think we should be making some money from our gas." There's also the "I just don't care at all."

I've never been asked about subversive involvement etc.. The article does us no favours but is what i'm used to from the media. The more successful we are at putting our point across the more mud they sling at us.

Remember almost every campaign that has sought to challenge the establishment has been demonised by the media that is essentially a tool of the establishment.

"One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down. "

author by Xitpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2008 17:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I used to work for a national newspaper. I agree very strongly with suggestions that people should complain to the journalist and complain to the editor. You can generally phone a newspaper and ask for an email address for the journalist in question. While it is tempting to vent your anger and frustration by telling the journalist what you think of them, I suggest that they are more likely to pay attention and more likely to feel some embarrassment if you politely point out their factual errors and make some reasoned points about their approach.

Journalists, corporations and an Garda Siochana, among others, tend to think they can get away with making up stuff about fringe groups. They assume we wont have the time or organization to hassle them about it. Don’t make it easy for them.

author by DCpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2008 19:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is a bit rich of the WSM describing an article as biased, have you ever read your own propaoganda?

author by soundmigrationpublication date Sat Sep 27, 2008 00:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not sure that WSM has ever claimed to be unbiased when it comes to exploitation, market led representative democracy, collective actions, solidarity etc.

author by vincent cartypublication date Sun Sep 28, 2008 03:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

jojhnjo said "also have concerns about some of the political rejects from Norn Iron who seem to have their own agenda here"

Who are these political rejects you have concerns about?

author by w?publication date Sun Sep 28, 2008 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Who said this- "So why don't you run for election..?"

no one said anything about running for election

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