Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Forgotten Constituency: The Majority and The Irish Economic Crisis

Discussion with Kathleen Lynch, Professor of Equality Studies, Department of Social Justice, UCD

(KL – Kathleen Lynch, MB – MediaBite, Miriam Cotton)

MB: Can you say a little about your own background and what attracted you to Equality Studies?

KL: I founded Equality Studies here in UCD in the late 1980s. Ireland was not unlike it is now. In the mid 80s we had the moving statues, we had the abortion referendum – a very controversial time. It was Ireland with the influence of Thatcher and Reagan – when they became extremely powerful politically and ideologically. There were a number of us here in UCD who felt we had an opportunity. I was always interested in equality issues and social justice since I was young. I had this idea for establishing Equality Studies. We had a women’s studies forum here. People often forget that the librarians in UCD were very involved in setting that up – more than the academics – but the women academics did get involved later and I participated in that in the mid 80s. Then I felt that while I was interested in women’s issues, my interests were bigger than that. I was interested in human rights, global justice and especially in class and equality. I felt that Ireland was a very class divided society. So I wrote a proposal. I got the support of colleagues in Law, Sociology and Business and eventually after two or three years – in 1990 – we got approval to start a masters degree and that’s 21 years ago this year.

Continue reading The Forgotten Constituency: The Majority and The Irish Economic Crisis

BBC: Children are ‘civilians’ when NATO’s holding the gun

In a report on the killing of 9 children by NATO forces in Afghanistan the BBC chooses not to provide details of the attack, highlights NATO’s apology for the deaths, seeks to deflect attention by highlighting killings carried out by the Taliban and refers to the children simply as ‘civilians’.

Not only does the BBC choose to describe the victims simply as ‘civilians’ in the headline, but the first paragraph also refers to ‘civilians’. It is only in the third paragraph that we learn what NATO are apologising for:

“Local officials say nine boys, aged 12 and under, were killed while gathering firewood, according to AP news agency.”

But even here, the deaths are claims assigned to unnamed officials, relayed by a news agency. There are no links to other reports offering further information on the attack. Few details of the circumstances, no names of those killed and no response from members of their community. It is the apology, not the deaths, that is the story.

The BBC euphemistically refers to the killing as an ‘incident’, and, it seems, given the remainder of the report, the deaths are simply incidental to the greater aims of the war:

“Gen Petraeus said he had ordered all helicopter crews to be re-briefed on the need to keep civilian casualties “to the absolute minimum”…”

It’s almost as if Petraeus is using the opportunity to apologise in advance for future killings in order to dispense with the rigmarole of formal apologies and the (very limited) bad press that comes with that.

Despite the fact this report deals with the killing of 9 children by NATO forces, the BBC’s rules of ‘impartiality’ requires it to note that NATO comes only second in terms of killing civilians in Afghanistan:

“Afghanistan Rights Monitor said the Taliban were responsible for about 60% of the 2,400 civilians killed, while US-led forces were accountable for 21%.”

A fact the BBC’s Jill McGivering felt the need to reiterate in a follow-up report:

“Washington is well aware of the strength of feeling and has worked hard to reduce casualties, she adds, though Nato says most civilian casualties last year were caused by Taliban insurgents, not the security forces.”

And again in this follow-up report ‘children’ are ‘civilians’.

On the other hand, there are many examples on the BBC News site where children’s deaths are deemed worthy of foregrounding, generally though, those deaths are caused by designated enemies:

Thanks to @colettebrowne for spotting this.

Banging on about media and property again

For the past decade the media inscribed a “triangular relationship between politics, development and banking” which largely explains why despite the witch hunts for rogue bankers, developers and politicians the media has not yet reflected on its own role in the crisis.

[Image via Irish Independent]

Dear Brian Brennan [BrianBrennan (at)],

I just read your piece in today’s Irish Independent and wanted to say I thought it was well timed. The damning judgement at the ballot box was not just directed at Fianna Fail, but at all those who facilitated and were complicit in the economic crisis. I also wanted to say though, that while you target a number of groups who bear serious responsibility for the economic crisis, I would argue you have left out at least one significant group: journalists and journalism.

At both a corporate and a journalistic level Irish media institutions failed in their role as the fourth estate. They failed to investigate properly the property market and the economic rational that underpinned it, they failed to expose the banking and political system that fueled the bubble, and at the most basic level they failed to safeguard the supposed firewall between journalism and advertising. Quite oppositely, they actually developed an economic stake in a rising property market. Both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times moved into the property sector both in terms of news supplements and as sales agents. Economics reporting reflected and fed into that perspective, with few dissenting voices.

Despite all this the media has not reflected on its role in the economic crisis.

Best wishes,


Fine Gael: “Oh…that manifesto”

Gene Kerrigan, writing in the Irish Independent:

“[Theo] Dorgan reckoned that when Fine Gael proves itself — as it absolutely will, I’m completely certain of this — a busted flush, then the new politics will happen. So it seems to me this is an interim moment in a long, unfolding process of change.

Let’s pause here to consider that Dorgan may be wrong. Is it possible that, unknown to us all, Fine Gael has transmogrified into something capable of dealing with the greatest economic disaster in the history of the State?

Okay, Enda Kenny arrived in the Dail in 1975 and has since risen without trace. But, isn’t he surrounded by young tigers, bulging with brains? People like — oh, you know, Leo Varadkar and Dr James Reilly.

During the election, Reilly appeared on Vincent Browne’s TV3 show. Browne asked if FG was serious, saying in its manifesto that it would “unilaterally” force bondholders to bear some of the cost of the banking disaster? The toughness of the approach to the problem hinges on whether or not the government acts unilaterally.

Reilly replied: “You used the word unilaterally. Show me in the manifesto where it says unilaterally.” Oh, says I to myself, Browne got it wrong. There’s no “unilaterally” in the manifesto.

So, Browne read from page 16, a promise to “unilaterally” force bondholders to pay. “Don’t say it’s not in the manifesto.”

My impression of this was that Reilly was less than familiar with that passage — even though it dealt with a central aspect of the economic disaster that threatens to totally swamp us. “You denied it said unilaterally,” Browne said.

Guess what Reilly said? “I didn’t deny it. I asked you to show it to me in the manifesto.”

The Irish Times said, in the days leading up to the election, “The [Fine Gael manifesto] is worth reading.” Apparently not.

via… twitter