At long last, some rational discussion of the situation in Rossport on the telly courtesy of Vincent Browne. How apt though that Shell should duck out of any discussion taking place on a level playing field – as did Gerry Gregg, the producer of the TV3 ‘documentary’ that sought to discredit objectors to the Corrib Gas project.
Astonishing however that there was not one mention by anyone on the panel (Fintan O’ Toole, John Monaghan, Fergus Finlay) of the terrifying circumstances of the sinking of Pat O’ Donnell’s boat at gun point or of his disgraceful incarceration in Castlereagh. Nothing about the beating up of Willie Corduff.
Also, why is it the case that left wing protestors who are as peaceful and well motivated as any of the other objectors are now coming to be caricatured as ‘extremists’. Why do the mainstream media feel this inexplicable, distorting compulsion to reduce every situation to a matter of two equal ‘sides’. Both Vincent Browne and Fintan O’ Toole seemed to be walking into that trap on the programme. Maura Harrington for example may be feisty but that is about the full extent of her much-exaggerated ‘extremism’. Yet Browne referred to Harrington in passing as if it were an established fact that her name is synonymous with an extreme element thus inadvertently buying into the defamatory and silly characterisations of her and others which the likes of Paul Williams and Peter Murtagh have been so anxious to portray.
The plain facts of the matter, by any objective measure, are that the wrong-doing is by a huge margin the responsibility of Shell and their political supporters in Fianna Fail and the Green Party. The minor infractions of law by a small number of protestors have been committed under severe duress and provocation such as any sane human being would find difficult to withstand with 100% equanimity 100% of the time. Yet Browne weighted that human response apparently so as to concoct a (false) notion of ‘balance’ and didn’t even mention the beatings and other forms of intimidation that people have withstood year in and year out since Shell imposed themselves on the community. Sure, FO’T mentioned the recommendations of the Garda Ombudsman in relation to a number of complaints against the Gardai but there was no mention of the shocking specifics.
But thank God for the programme – some very important facts were given an airing. John Monaghan dispelled the myth that the community has not bent over backwards to look at alternative, less dangerous and polluting ways of bringing the gas ashore – a fact which virtually noone in the mainstream media has troubled to report with any degree of prominence. Hope this programme is the beginning of a reassessment by the media of their largely atrocious coverage of this issue.