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Saturday 30 August 2014

Kevin Myers: Hubris at Montrose is simply staggering

Published 29/11/2011 | 17:00

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Seldom has the professional liberal consensus been as exposed as it has in the past fortnight, with the bogus tweet during the presidential debate, the sorry affair in Naas, the libel-debacle in RTE and the squalid pickets outside the Israeli Film Festival in Dublin.

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There it was, in all its glory, the ruthlessness of doctrinaire media-liberalism; i.e. follow our rules, do as we do, or we will destroy you.

It is a hypothetical question, of course; but do you actually believe that an unsubstantiated tweet from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, declaring that a witness was going to give a press conference the next day, alleging that a presidential candidate had secured an abortion, would have been read out on air, live, during a television debate? Do you believe that a witness announcing a press conference at which he would reveal grave wrong-doing by Martin McGuinness would have been similarly declared as a fact? That is what happened to Sean Gallagher. And guess what: RTE hasn't even apologised for its part in this critical deception of the Irish people.

Meanwhile, professional Montrosians have been flocking to the defence of RTE in the name of 'investigative journalism'. But whereas investigative journalism is under no threat from the truth, it is in serious danger from self-appointed moralisers who celebrate falsehood as fact, all in the pursuit of a good story. The hubris involved is simply staggering. The 'Prime Time' journalist Aoife Kavanagh actually had the nerve to write to the solicitors of the wronged priest Father Kevin Reynolds, asking: "Is your client denying any sexual relations, or encounters of a sexual nature, consensual or otherwise, with any member of the local or expatriate community during his time in Africa?"

That kind of all-encompassing and almost limitless inquiry into the history of a person's private parts will be familiar to any teenage boy or girl who went to confession in Ireland, up to the 1970s. That a state-subsidised journalist is asking an adult such a question in the second decade of the 21st century tells you all you need to know about who wields a crozier these days. But would anyone in RTE ask any married politician a comparable question about sexual infidelity? No, of course not: politicians are too powerful, and this is a game of bullies.

RTE hit the iceberg with the Reynolds libel action; but by God, the crew would have sailed on if they could. Indeed, the RTE Authority, which should have acted immediately, announced that it would not be meeting for another month. But what in the name of God is it there for, if not to exert its teeth when such a monumental crisis occurs? And why is it still in place? And what will cause it to go?

It already had a crisis on its hands with the phoney tweet: a crisis that it neither acknowledged nor responded to. Admittedly, this is a problem in broadcasting generally, where an absurd culture has emerged that allows nameless radio listeners the right to offer their often very nasty opinions, on air, live. Unless radio-station owners act on this -- and they haven't so far -- then the problem will get worse. As it is, a presidential candidature was laid low by a tweeted false allegation that poor Sean Gallagher was too inexperienced to cope with.

And then we had the liberal lynch-mob erupting over the idiotic declaration by the mayor of Naas, Darren Scully, that he would no longer represent black Africans, because -- he said -- they always played the race-card. What he said was grievously wrong and stupid and racist, and should have been dealt with by political action, calmly and decisively. But instead, a viciously sanctimonious hysteria erupted.

Worst of all, the Labour TD for Dublin North East Aodhán Ó Ríordáin proudly announced that he had reported the councillor to An Garda Siochana under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. And that is the way of ideologists everywhere: lock up heretics; destroy the non-compliant.

Darren Scully's remarks were imbecilic, but they do not deserve imprisonment. The attempt by a government TD to criminalise a man for speaking his mind, even if he did so in a gratuitously insulting way, is truly contemptible. Moreover, Darren Scully's incoherent nonsense was perhaps symptomatic of the frustration felt by so many Irish people, who for years have felt quite powerless in the face of immigration policies that have had such profound effects on their communities.

Nonetheless, his words were stupid and wrong; and very properly, he apologised and resigned. But to seek to have him imprisoned is grotesque, yet not really surprising. This is how doctrinal liberals behave: ferociously and illiberally.

And consider: had a local councillor comparably declared that he would not assist Israelis living in Ireland in any way, would a Labour TD have reported him to An Garda Siochana? Because boycotting Israelis is now an honourable and pious policy for much of fashionable Ireland. Boycott Africans, that's criminal. Do it to Israelis, and it's noble. And as for Catholic priests? Oh, fair game! Thus the kindly and discerning scruples of the Irish liberal consensus.

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