Dublin rocked by good-humoured demo!!

Posted: November 27, 2010 in Media & Journalism, The economy

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have organised a protest march in Dublin today and it’s just setting off on its way from Wood Quay to the GPO on O’Connell St. The demo is a protest against the government’s four-year austerity plan to raise €15 billion from the people to give it to the banks. ICTU general secretary, David Beggs, said it will be a good-humoured and well-organised event and he’s not the only one.  Queen of Irish radio, Marian Finucane, had a wee chat down the line to someone at the march, a nurse who was fed up with the whole situation after having to cancel her subscription to Sky and make other painful savings in anticipation of inevitable cuts to her income. “Is it a good-humoured event there?” Marian asked her. “Oh yes, very good-humoured!” says the nurse. “Oh good!” sighs a relieved Marian. “I hope it stays that way!”  Although she did give out about the whistles used by the protesters – a bit like those vuvuzela thingies at the last World Cup. A good-humoured, silent protest is what she wants.

No doubt Marian was mindful of smaller protests outside Leinster House earlier in the week, which were a good deal less good humoured. Tut tut. In fact, people were very angry and there was a bit of pushing and shoving with the boys in blue. We can’t be having any of that, can we?

You see, it’s really important that when the government robs the people blind on behalf of the banks and destroy the livelihoods of so many , that we maintain our sense of humour. There is no place at all for grumpiness or anger and let’s face it, the Labour Party’s Pat Rabitte really let himself down last week on RTE Primetime (Thursday, 18 November). Imagine shouting live on TV at hapless government minister, Pat Carey!

Anyway, the idea that the people should go out and protest on the streets and make their voice heard appears to bring out the reactionary instincts of the mainstream media better than no other issue.  People power and popular protest is grand when’s it’s in Burma or Thailand but not the thing to be doing in a democracy. Although, fair play to Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times, who is giving the key-note address to the demo today – “a strange thing for a newspaper columnist to be doing” according to RTE’s man on the spot who rather sarcastically labelled him “Saint Fintan”.

And this is the thing. It seems that the media establishment in Ireland reserve the right to speak for the people in these dark days and offer us “reasonable” interpretations of events. They police the debate and determine what’s sayable and what’s not sayable, what’s doable and not doable, what’s credible and not credible. The remarkable thing, however, is that these “reasonable” interpretations are sourced to the establishment and the bond marketeers who wrecked the country in the first place. Counter it with an alternative explanation and the newscaster interjects with that Irish media cliché de jour, “Ah now, we are where we are. Let’s focus on where we go from here!”  But as Roisin Shorthall (Irish Labour Party) pointed out on radio today, “We need to understand how we got here to know why we are where we are” (RTE Radio 1, Lunchtime News, 27 November). Needless to say, she was cut short due to time constraints.

So, there’s the media lesson for the ICTU protest.  In the midst of this national crisis, the people must put on the green jersey and pull together. They must be good-humoured and reasonable, especially if they take to the streets in protest. It makes it easier to ignore or minimize. The revolution will not be televised.

See my post on what happened to Argentina at the hands of IMF in 2002. It has eerie echoes of what’s happening to Ireland right now.

Also see Rab’s take on media coverage of the student protests in England.

  1. Dublin rocked by good-humoured demo!! « Academic Anonymous…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by felimmcmahon, Stephen Baker. Stephen Baker said: Academic Anon. on media coverage of demonstration. http://tinyurl.com/3xxd4ql #dubmarch […]

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