The ubiquitous Terry Prone is, in the opinion of this blogger, quite frankly something of a menace in Irish public life. Readers of this blog post are invited to share examples of Prone’s outrageous spinning for all things Fianna Fail and right wing.
Having devoted much of her PR career to trying to put something resembling panache into Fianna Fail’s high rollers (a desperate, desperate job to be sure) she seems nowadays to be bending herself to spinning the economic crisis. It might not matter so much if tv panel show producers and newspaper editors could get the idea into their heads that it’s possible to broadcast a programme or print a newspaper without there having to be something said or written by Terry Prone in them.
When it comes to the dark arts of spin-doctoring there is no better woman for the job. An article of Frank Connolly’s about TP once referred to her as ‘The High Priestess of Spin’. Examples of her wily working ways abound but as good a place as any to begin the job of shining a spotlight on Terry Prone would be with the upset one of her recent Irish Examiner columns has cased to people with cancer. The article basically recommended to cancer patients that they ought to face up to the fact they are going to die, that optimisim in the face of the disease was misplaced and that they might as well forego all the treatments and medications. Wouldn’t Mary Harney and all her private health care chums be delighted if these ideas took off?
From Prone’s own point of view, the column was undoubtedly a PR disaster visited on herself – a slipping of the ‘bubbly’, ‘chatty’, ‘chirrupy, self confident’ mask she usually wears to disguise the rather nasty meaness of her objectives. On this occasion, however, there they were in plain view for all the world to see. This much appears to have been acknowledged because the column is no longer available in the Examiner’s archives and cannot be found on Google – not even on Prone’s own website.
The following comment on the letter (see link above) by Margaret Browne from Killeagh in Co Cork has been sent to the Examiner letters page but whether it will be published or not is anyone’s guess:
I write in response Margaret Browne’s letter in today’s Examiner about the heartlessness of Terry Prone’s recent article on the subject of cancer. As a keen observer of Terry Prone’s columns, may I offer the following thought to Margaret Browne and others who may have been similarly offended? For a long time I have had the conviction that the clue to reading Terry Prone is first of all to ask yourself what she is spinning this week, because if you look carefully, behind all the bon mots, bonhomie and funny stories, she is always spinning something. On this occasion I believe she was advocating the idea that, rather than having expectations of cancer care services ‘ordinary people’ could regard themselves as better human beings if they quietly laid down and died. This is not the first time she has attempted this theme. Not very long ago, also in her column in the Examiner, Terry Prone decried the patients and others who phone Joe Duffy to describe their experiences of the health service – and ridiculed Mr Duffy, his listeners and his programme for enabling such public expressions of despair and concern. All this, you see, at a time when the government and Mary Harney in particular are coming under fire for the parlous state of the health service, into which billions of taxpayers’ euro have been poured to the benefit of private business ‘investors’ – with no concomitant improvement in the quality of service. If anything things are getting worse. As a PR professional, Ms Prone has earned a handsome living advising Fianna Fail governments on how to sell unpopular policies and equally unpopular politicians. If she has not quite managed the feat of persuading us that these pigs ears have been made into silk purses, then she must resort to the other side of public relations: shaping the attitudes of the population at large. In this last respect, Terry Prone is a tireless and subtle warrior for the neo-conservative, irresponsible and uncaring policies that have destroyed the country. The plight of cancer patients is a powerful phenomenon and one which has regularly brought successive health ministers into disrepute for doing everything and anything bar the needful to improve standards of care. It is into the heart of this particular scourge of health policy, I believe, that Terry Prone is aiming her spears. We should keep an eye out for them.
Prone has been working overtime to sell the idea that the best people don’t complain or go public about anything. She would like, it seems, to narcotise the entire country into obedient submission in these times of threatened cuts, unemployment, strikes and civil disquiet. Here she is again advocating the shy person as a much maligned but better example of the species and spinning their advantages over the more outspoken among us. It must surely raise more than a few laughs to see Prone advertising herself as ‘a card-carrying member of the shy brigade’. I’m confounded by these particular assertions:
This country is predjudiced against shy people. It wants everybody to be open, upbeat, part of a group, awash in self-esteem and bubbling with chatty, chirrupy self confidence.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything less true said of Irish people. The fact is we are typically and lamentably reluctant to assert ourselves – and more likely to be uncomfortable around people who do . A point not lost on Brian Lenihan who was able to go abroad in recent weeks and boast that in any other country the fiscal measures he had just introduced would have led to rioting. Terry Prone is ever on hand to play her part in making sure that things stay that way.