Wednesday 21 February 2018

Fiery talk and f-words as workers whip up a frenzy

Brian McDonald

NOW this was more like what a union meeting is supposed to be. And with Easter just around the corner and the teachers in line to mount their own soapbox, it is to be hoped that they were paying attention to their brothers and sisters in the CPSU. Because they gave it loads in Galway yesterday.

Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, the 'Sunday Independent', talk shows, the rest of us in the media -- we all got it in the neck.

And, oh, yes, the Government, as well.

At times, it was hard to tell whether those of us who report on such events were more to blame for the unhappy lot of the CPSU members than those who implemented the pay cuts, pension levies and recruitment embargo.

One delegate felt he was getting such a raw deal from the media that he wanted to set up a special CPSU radio station, so members could air their grievances. Others wanted the union to hire its own journalists to ensure they got a fair shake.

Then there was the guy who strode bravely over to the media table and told us all to go home.

He proceeded to throw some crumpled tissue on to the table to be used to block our ears as he warned us that we would not want to hear what he had to say about us.

He duly made it on to the speakers' rostrum, where he announced that an attempt had apparently been made to silence him, but he would say what he had to say.

Images of Kevin Boland taking on Jack Lynch and the Fianna Fail establishment at an ard fheis almost 40 years ago flashed before our eyes.

The speaker wanted to say that some members of the media were a disgrace to their profession and he advised the conference that he had offered us a bag of cotton wool because we mightn't like to hear what he had to say.

Now, throwing things at us we can take. Journalists are a pretty thick-skinned lot. But questioning our accuracy? I know my cleaning pleats from my Kleenex, thank you very much.

Another contributor insisted that Joe Duffy was dictating the Government's policy, while the following speaker felt Pat Kenny was the country's real Taoiseach and Joe a Mary Coughlan-lookalike.

But it wasn't all about us. One delegate wound himself up to such a pitch about those responsible for the country's problems that he forgot (or maybe not) where he was and ripped away with the F-word.

But by then, the delegates had already been whipped into such a frenzy of anti-Government, anti-management and anti-media frenzy by speakers from the top table that nobody really gave a rat's arse.

Irish Independent

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