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Shell's Lackey's In The Media Out In Force Again

category national | environment | feature author Tuesday July 07, 2009 14:10author by Joe Higgins MEP - Socialist Partyauthor email info at joehiggins dot eu Report this post to the editors

The government, official opposition and the media are all towing Shell's line

featured image
Joe Higgins making his point to Gardaí in Rossport

The sinking of fisherman Pat O Donnel’s boat and the arrival of Shell Oil’s pipe laying ship, The Solitaire, in Broadhaven Bay, Mayo, has brought the Corrib Gas field very much back into the news.

Some media are once again highlighting the high costs of the Garda operation to protect the Shell operation. Occasional articles appear denigrating those who are opposing the Shell operation in its current form. There are frequent dark hints about ‘subversive’ forces driving the opposition.

It was always thus when mere peasants or proletarians dared to oppose the powerful vested interests of the economic and political establishment . One hundred years ago when Big Jim Larkin arrived from Liverpool to organise the downtrodden manual labourers of Belfast and Dublin, his message of hope to them was demonised as a subversive plot to destroy society.

The newspaper of William Martin Murphy - the media tycoon of that era - never lost an opportunity to portray Larkin as the devil incarnate and ‘Larkinism’ as the devil’s philosophy.

Linked to the abuse of Larkinism were constant denunciations of socialism. Larkin’s collaborator, the socialist pioneer James Connolly, well understood how the establishment propaganda machine worked when he satirised their methods in a simple but brilliant pamphlet, ‘Socialism Made Easy’ written in 1909. It is worth quoting the following passage at some length as it resonates forward a full hundred years to the present day.

‘Socialism is a foreign importation. I know it because I read it in the papers. I also know it to be the case because in every country I have graced with my presence up to the present time, or have heard from, the possessing classes through their organs in the press, and their spokesmen upon the platform have been vociferous and insistent in declaring the foreign origin of Socialism.

In Ireland Socialism is an English importation, in England they are convinced it was made in Germany, in Germany it is a scheme of traitors in alliance with the French to disrupt the Empire, in France it is an accursed conspiracy to discredit the army which is destined to reconquer Alsace and Lorraine, in Russia it is an English plot to prevent Russian extension towards Asia, in Asia it is known to have been set on foot by American enemies of Chinese and Japanese industrial progress, and in America it is one of the baneful fruits of unrestricted pauper and criminal immigration.’

Sure enough, recently, when Dublin Bus drivers were forced into industrial action because management short circuited changes without exhausting the usual procedures, sections of the media sought to find ‘militants’ and ‘socialist agitators’ to be at work. Apparently workers do not have the wit to take a stand unless dark forces are manipulating them.

And so, back to the Corrib Gas field and the questions that the media should be asking in the present situation. Why are members of the judiciary so willing to throw the book at those fighting the Shell project as evidenced in the jailing of an activist, Maura Harrington, for a month for an alleged offence that might usually merit a caution? And why should the High Court threaten young fisherman, Jonathan O’Donnell, with indefinite detention unless he effectively gave up his protest against the Shell project? Which big banker or developer has had such threats in another context?

How could an Irish Government hand over an entire quantum of natural gas to a massive multinational corporation with not a cent in royalties extracted for the benefit of public services and the Irish people? And how could this be done without having an independent assessment of the wealth of gas present in this field but instead took the word of the prospecting companies in whose interest it would be to majorly understate the extent of the reserves?

These issues need to be investigated rather than scapegoating those who are protesting against the whole arrangement between the State and Shell Oil. And what about the very real fears for their physical health of local people through whose surroundings the Shell oil pipe would pass? Can anyone say they are being hysterical in view of pipeline ruptures that have occurred with deadly effect in other parts of the world? And are fears for the environment not justified in view of a major payout by Shell related to environmental destruction in the Niger Delta, even if the company denies liability?

Answers to some or all of these questions will come in the future but probably too late to stop the gifting of a fabulous natural resource for nothing to one of the biggest private corporations in the world. Because, instead of tearing up the existing contract, the likelihood is that a Fine Gael/ Labour government would as slavishly adhere to it as the current Fianna Fail/Green Party Coalition.


author by Conorpublication date Fri Jul 03, 2009 16:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cheers Joe, nice comparison.

We're damn lucky your back in the scene...

author by Keith Harris - newsmedianewspublication date Sat Jul 04, 2009 08:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In another day and age, police who turned on their own people with violence would face an armed insurrection.

There was another similar twist of reality by the media - for months the mainstream media with the exception of one journalist on the Cork Examiner, blackened all train drivers who broke away from the main union to form ILDA, the Irish Locomotive Drivers Assocxiation.

I broke the story in the media from the drivers' side and forced the recaliterant press to publish what they would rather have not.

I also received a call from the news editor of the time at the Irish Independent who actually said to me on the phone at 8am one Monday morning: "Are you going to write what we ask you to or what you choose to write yourself?"

Vincent Browne, then the rag's editor, refused to take his news editor to task over his insulting telephone call, stating that he would not interfere with his news editor's decision. Having written for the Independent group for a good many years as a former UK chief reporter, I then told Browne that his rag would never again receive any submissions from me.

author by Citizenpublication date Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cheers for that Joe, Great that you are beck on the scene waiting to hear about your initial reaction of you r first foray into the parliament. Do you thin though we are a bit removed from larkin in 2009? Also what would the majority of the people that elected you in think that your using indy media as a debate tool? Little pathetic dont you think ?

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If this corrupt state keeps going the way it is treating citizens like merde and abusing civil and human rights, it will be the only course the people can take.
Thank you Joe for being what you are an honest man, a very rare commodity in Irish politics.
The silence of the oposition parties on the multiple human rights abuses by the forces of the state shows us how rotten our country has become. We expect it from Fianna Fail but had hopes that the oposition would do their job, but no only an odd token wimper from Labour.
To most left wingers ethics and ideals are the gospel and each small group have their own version. This makes it very hard for socialist peoples to create a united front. A leader that could combine the dfiferent ideals of the left is badly needed as our country is going down the tubes. I hope that leader can be Joe Higgins. Gilmore is playing the game of the right who think that politics is the art of telling lies convincingly.

author by James Kellypublication date Sun Jul 05, 2009 20:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well said Joe as always.

The current issue of Phoenix has a three page piece on the PR battle headed up on behalf of Shell by local lad made good, one Pat Egan.

It also has another piece on Shell's private security outfit, falls down a bit by failing to remind its readers (which it usually does) of previous patently prejudicial actions and statements of Judge Mary Devins, but by and large its a welcome publication for the record.

author by prpublication date Mon Jul 06, 2009 02:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

all the same, Shell seem to be winning this one. No mention of the story in any of the newspapers for days now.

author by Billy idlepublication date Mon Jul 06, 2009 09:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shell appear to have more influence in the government then Gormleys FF lite party

author by soundmigrationpublication date Mon Jul 06, 2009 13:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As of right now, kayakers involved on Shell to Sea have boarded the pipe laying Solitiare. more info to follow.

author by Caoimhe Kerins - Dublin Shell to Seapublication date Mon Jul 06, 2009 13:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As has been said before:

Yes Shell are wining the media battle, they were always going to.

That however doesn't mean that we shouldn't fight as hard as we can. Shell have massive professional PR companies to work for them and massive advertising contracts to wave in front of media outlets.

We have only our spare time and little to no money. You can help. Do you read the same newspaper everyday, or listen to the same radio show everyday on your way to work? If you do, you could take on the responsibility of listening out to see if Shell to Sea are mentioned, and then contacting us to let us know what was said so that we can respond. All it takes is 10 ppl to take on one media outlet each and we would have all the major ones covered. So indymedia posters, time for action!

If you have any spare time at all to give any kind of help, even if it only for the summer, please contact us at: dublins2s@gmail.com

author by James Kellypublication date Mon Jul 06, 2009 18:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As a rule Shell have all the bases covered in the PR area. We can and sometimes do slip through the cracks with an odd potshot.

One piece of information that Shell are very jumpy about is that the planned pipe will carry ODOURLESS high pressure gas.

This dead simple fact getting into the public domain is something that Shell and Pat Egan do not want.

I would submit in all seriousness, that this 'O' word should be on all literature advertising our cause, along of course with the mega billion gas giveaway.

Likewise, the massive resource of the websites should also be advertisied on all literature.

author by Dave Donnellanpublication date Tue Jul 07, 2009 23:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In response to Caoimhe one time saving way to monitor the media on any topic is to use 'Google Alerts'. Available at http://www.google.com/alerts once you enter a search term like "Shell to Sea" or "Corrib Gas" Google monitors all occurences of these terms 24/7 on the web and sends you the results. You can choose how comprehensive the search is ranging from just 'news' to 'comprehensive' and how often to receive alerts so as not to clog up your inbox. A great time saver and also a good way to avoid forking out money to buy newspapers. Well worth a look for media monitors.

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