Thursday 19 April 2018

Editorial: Free press is best citizens defence

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton

The accelerating disintegration of the banking inquiry may teach us a great deal more about the degraded state of our current democracy than the proposed history lesson about the iniquities of the Coalition's wretched Fianna Fail predecessors.

In particular,it reveals more than politicians and our permanent government of civil servants might like about the the critical value of a free and argumentative press which lives up and sometimes down to Churchill's famous definition of democracy. Last weeks News of the World judgement may have shown we are imperfect creatures, but, no-one has yet invented a better public defender of the citizen than a healthy media.

In that regard, the sinister incarceration of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt and the tawdry tales in the News of the World trial might appear to provide us with two very different narratives.The world, however, is a more complex place than those who were so visibly disappointed with the 'not guilty' verdict for Rebekah Brooks would like. In particular, when looked at with a long lens, the most intriguing feature of this trial was that the equivalent of a small expeditionary force in war was deployed to secure a result. Sadly, we should not be surprised by the zestful relish of the hunt, for politicians, vested public and private interests and our new lay episcopacy of 'celebrities' will never recoil from the temptation to 'put manners' on an independent media.

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