Exchange with someone in the Meeja

Edited to preserve their identity (hopefully).

The Heathrow Terminal Transfer
The Heathrow Terminal Transfer

Dear [edit],

The biggest problem for news consumers is deciphering who or what influences the news they read. For instance, it might be reasonable to ask whether the media’s focus on cutting public sector pay and defending politicians expenses is a reflexive defense of the establishment?

Certainly, continually forcing a separation between NAMA and the rest of the economic malaise is an interesting lesson in equality.

Best wishes,


HI David

On the issue of expenses – I’m not defending them. At all! I think they are outrageous.  But I think Mary Harney used the jet more than O’Donoghue did, so why should he go for doing what everyone else did? I want the whole lot out! And the whole system changed! And JoD probably had to go because of the sensitivity of his position, but I would have given him 1 more day to make his case. It’s an act of compassion to a man who was on the way out. It was the lack of mercy afforded to him in the name of PR that shocked me – not that I thought he deserved his job. I just thought he should be allowed to go with dignity.

Finally  – on the public sector – by insisting on private sector benchmarking – the mainstream left is left with a problem since the private sector is being made redundant in their hundreds of thousands.(and btw, temp public sectors workers too, especially in county councils).

If they had used their power to ask for pay rises for the lower paid parts of the public sector and say, making temporary teachers permanent etc, then they wouldn’t have this huge problem when people say – “em, benchmarking on the way up, then why not on the way down?” The logic is inescapable and they are left with a big problem of defending themselves.

Finally finally, I’m not sure what your job is, but I really don’t think any garda or prison office or assistant general secretary can know what its like to go to bed and not know if you’ll have a job when you wake up. For those in the private sector with jobs, there can be no solidarity and no “equality” with those who have that sense of security.

The money is gone. There are a few horrible years ahead, but more horrible for those without jobs than those with safe jobs. It’s not defending the establishment, it’s just a fact.



Hi [edit],

O’Donoghue’s fall was his own doing. A dignified exit was his to earn, and he failed majestically on that front.

The fact this rolling head has been so controversial is testament to the emptiness of the ‘share the pain’, ‘we’re all in it together’, ‘we lost the run of ourselves’ mantra hammered home by journalists, politicians and various rich people over the last year or two. Funnily enough, elsewhere reactions aren’t quite so dramatic, for instance the Swedish Minister for Culture resigned this time three years ago for not paying her TV licence fee.

It’s quite amazing how the media can to a certain extent create and fuel such immense controversy over what are really marginal issues of tax wastage through expenses, when greater issues of corruption and incompetence go unpunished.

It seems entirely unequal for commentators to moralise over the dignity of a single self-indulgent politician and at the same time call for the slashing of public sector pay, when the elephant in the room is that a penny ‘saved’ in public sector pay is really just a penny spent on the banking ransom. The old slogan ‘Socialism for the rich, Capitalism for the poor’ couldn’t ring any more true.

Best wishes,


Hi David

Do you know, I find almost nothing I can disagree with in your email

For the last few weeks I have to say I’ve been reeling trying to make sense of everything that’s going on – the expenses, the financial horror that is Nama, the clear sense that government ministers really have no idea that one man’s bonus is another family’s riches, the strike threats and yes, I am appalled at what I hear and see in the meeja too

I console myself with a comment one economist made which was that despite everything that happened in Iceland  – life goes on. Food is on the shelves, electricity is supplied and people get up in the morning and function. A lower standard than we’re used to, but some comfort!

All the best


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