[Cross-posted from politico.ie‘s collaborative #budgetjam]
Yesterday the Sunday Times published what can only be described as a despicable hatchet job on Fintan O’ Toole. His character, personality, aspects of his personal relationships and other issues were the subject of the paper’s venomous, cowardly and anonymous attack on him. Arguments about his solutions to our economic crisis and the proposed budget are for another piece. There are many criticsims that might be made about O’ Toole’s position on many things, but this post is not concerned with them – nor is it concerned with the many sneaky, dishonest insinuations that the Sunday Times article is riddled with.
Defending heoroic individuals on whom we might all depend is not my agenda here. But one thing is unmistakable: Fintan O’ Toole is nothing if not well motivated. Disagree with him as many people clearly do, he deserves recognition for his recent efforts on behalf of Irish society and about the manifest inequalities about to be visited on us all if the proposed budget tomorrow is voted through – and above all if the systemic corruption and incompetence that he has so eloquently exposed in his book Ship of Fools, is not radically confronted and halted. All that in itself is more than enough reason to anger the chauvinist brutes who run our country – and their equally brutish – if sly – opposition party supporters – Fine Gael and Labour alike. When you add into the mix, as O’ Toole has, a series of effective public speaking events at which people have clearly warmed both to him personally and to what he has to say then you can be assured you will attract the customary, vindictive brutality of the Irish governing elite and, crucially, its supportive and equally vindictive media elite. Step forward The Sunday Times yesterday, The John Murray Show on RTE this morning and the Sunday Independent (who else?) yesterday. And of course the old Fianna Fáil reliable, Ryan Tubridy’s (no relation!) Late Late Show – all suddenly coming out in a crowd over just three or four days. Funny that, isn’t it? This post comments only on the Sunday Times piece – but watch this space.
Speaking to him late this afternoon, O’ Toole does not rail against a conspriacy of vested interests out to get him but he does agree that the Sunday Times’ and other newspaper/broadcaster’s coverage could well be more than merely sloppy journalism. “No-one called, not to check a single fact”, he says. “These are small things, but they tell you something.. street names, my salary, the 19A bus does not run from past Harcourt ‘Road’ and the whole thing about me driving off in a BMW Series or whatever after the protest march…I don’t drive, I don’t own a car, I got on the 13A bus after the march in Dublin to go home – as many people on the bus would be able to tell you…I am paid €85,000 a year and I am not a part-time worker. My work involves much more than the hours I put into writing – there are many meetings and a lot of adminsitrative and other things involved – as Deputy Editor, of course there are”.
What has O’ Toole done to get the establishment so nastily riled? It’s not possible to repeat the insinuations against FOT here without giving them possible legal credence but see here, in particular if you want to know what has upset ‘the powers that be’: