Jokes will be outlawed in Rabbitte’s Ireland

Whether it’s the numerous horrible and saddening issues befalling our citizens, the ineptitude of our elected officials or the prevalence of backwards groups and campaigns lately, Ireland can be quite a humourless place.

Reinforcing this current misery is TD Pat Rabbitte, who, in a questionable piece in The Irish Independent, waded in on yet another rather pathetic attempt to bully an RTE freelancer. This isn’t the first time the paper has been used to settle scores from the internet between members of the Christian right and their critics. In an equally lamentable article, a hit was placed on an RTE freelancer, Pat O’Mahony, who took issue with insufferable Iona Institute frontman and Irish Independent columnist, David Quinn, snapped and called him “a poisonous cunt” online.

While a number of people admitted that Quinn has annoyed them enough to consider calling him names similar to  “a poisonous cunt”, O’Mahony said he shouldn’t have used such language in messaging Quinn and publicly apologised to him. On Twitter, Quinn seemed to grudgingly leave it at that, but, in a newsletter from the Iona Institute obtained by,the issue was far from over as he sneakily used it to further his ridiculous claims of media bias against Irish anti-abortion campaigners. (You can read about those claims in this piece that dispels the myth)

This time, freelancer and all round lovely chap Jim Sheridan is in the firing line. Not even for something he said, as some of the Christian right were misleadingly claiming this morning, but for his reply to someone else’s joke. Sadly, this is news according to Gemma O’Doherty, writing in Quinn’s paper of choice today. Sheridan replied to someone joking on Twitter about Senator Ronan Mullen, the highly unpopular man who is quite vocal on issues like abortion and gay rights. The joke was about the Senator being crucified and Sheridan quipped “He’d be back in three days but we could have at least one great weekend without him appearing on TV or radio.”

According to the Communications Minister Pat “Isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?” Rabbitte, this is “deplorable” and “offensive”. Even more worrying were comments from Tom Hayes, who will head an investigation into “cyberbullying” on social media, which politicians have been blaming for the tragic death of Shane McEntee. He called it  “a very personal attack” on Senator Mullen, which “humiliated and ridiculed” him.

I would argue that Jim Sheridan’s contributions online have done more good than either Rabbitte or Hayes when it comes to the issue of actual bullying on the internet. He has been a vocal opponent of such real attacks and has consistently been a pleasant and engaging presence online, even when dealing with undesirable, unreasonable and quite frankly stupid elements of the web. He has lampooned and made skits of those from all political persuasions and beliefs, contrary to the false claims made by David Quinn today that nobody working at RTE made fun of pro choicers. Sheridan told the author of the Independent article that he found “the allegation of being a cyberbully untruthful and damaging.” I for one agree with Sheridan and would hope that idiocy of this nature would cease immediately.

It was not so long ago that we had another attempt to publicly shame and worry people in media jobs, when a constantly attention seeking conservative decided to make a list of journalists who supported a pro-choice march. This was again used as ammunition in the liberal media conspiracy war. Interestingly though, even the man behind Listgate spoke out that he had never known Jim Sheridan to be malicious.

People of Quinn and Mullen’s ilk like to shame and accuse opponents, using terms like bully and bigot to describe those who either disagree with them or laugh at their nonsense, in attempts to themselves bully people into submission. The fact that the current batch of politicians are playing up to these types of claims, in an obvious attack on RTE through a decent man, is pathetic and embarrassing, while The Irish Indepedent’s continued use in this tiresome fight should be criticised and opposed.

[image via @oceanclub]

About The Author

Neil Markey

Founder of News and current events nerd who likes cute animals and fighting with politicians on the internet. QRG has called me a “maverick Irish blogger” but I’m mostly just being an opinionated jerk. You can find me mouthing off on the Twitter-machine @Nerin_

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  1. Stephen

    Not all jokes will be outlawed though, as many of the mob involved in the witchhunt haven’t said anything regarding John Waters joke about burning the owner of Twitter alive and leaving the remains for the buzzards.

    And to my mind, Sheridan is being attacked for making a jokey response to the “offensive” tweet. Are people now to be punished for the people they communicate with?

    1. itsapoliticalworld

      Thanks. Before Christmas I wrote this blog post on a threat made by Declan Ganley against Kevin Barrington that he would make a complaint to the police under the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act. This was after Barrington, a journalist and blogger, had been involved in a very similar twitter exchange. I think that “burning at the stake” was mentioned. Under legal pressures it appears that Barrington has removed a blog in which he pointed to Ganley’s past links with far right anti-semitic political groups in Europe. There appears to be a bigger picture here with a concerted push by FG and Labour to silence opposition. Satire is clearly a legitimate and time honoured aspect of political debate. It appears from todays twitter traffic that it will not go away.

  2. dna123

    It’s not an attack on RTE, it’s an attack on the non mainstream media. We’ll see how RTE reacts to this.

  3. Neil Markey


    Journalist Colette Brown contacted Pat Rabbitte’s office, and was given the following response.
    “I personally told the Irish Independent that I would not comment on any tweet I had not seen but that ‘I would deplore the use of offensive material from whatever source’ – which was by way of a reply to questioning about the place of employment of the person who posted the tweet.”

    Later, when she contacted the journalist, Gemma O’Doherty, she was told that “at no point did he tell her he would not comment on a tweet he had not seen. During a documented interview, he described the tweets as dreadful, offensive and deplorable. She also confirmed that she had sent Mr Sheridan’s tweets to the Minister”

    When Colette contacted Minister Rabbitte’s office again, they confirmed the above. Read more here:

    On Jan 7th Rabbitte/his office said to Ciaran that his words had been twisted. When Ciaran asked him “if we can expect him to take print media to task for lying for the sake of a story.” the reply he got was “I don’t see how I can do anything now”

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