A quango casting around for something to do to fill in the long day may do little good, but it rarely does much harm either.
However, the proposed guidelines on comment, by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, particularly when it comes to the commercial media, have an Orwellian hue. They can only be seen as representing another escalation of an ongoing chill process on free comment, which is seriously impairing the quality and depth of our democracy. One of the more bedraggled scarecrows, constantly cited by those who would banish contrarianism and turn Irish journalism into a single GoodnewsCorp style blancmange of 'factual reporting', is the claim by CP Scott that facts are sacred but comment is free. Mr Scott's comment may have been correct when Lloyd George was the British PM and Hitler was selling paintings in Vienna but comment is assuredly not free today. And without the stress-testing that comment provides, facts can all too easily be manipulated to mean what secret vested interests want them to mean.