“Extremists, he said, had no hesitation about lying..”

In the Irish Times Dan Keenan notes Garret Fitzgerald’s address to the second annual McCluskey Civil Rights Summer School in Carlingford, Co Louth.

Turning to the limitations on freedom of speech, notably Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act between 1971 and 1993, Dr FitzGerald argued against what he said was “a liberal fallacy” that the broadcasting ban against members of proscribed organisations prevented their “exposure”.

Citing Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and former DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley, Dr FitzGerald said they tended to “get the better of interviewers and to gain support and prestige rather than being exposed by access to these media”.

Extremists, he said, had no hesitation about lying and interviewers, given their normal experience with democratic politicians, have simply not proved capable of challenging this.

Old habits…

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  • Brian Walker

    Glad to see Dan Keenan’s report. I’m struck by how a new legend is being created claiming that human rights are somehow alien to Protestantism and more amenable to the Catholic tradition.

    Historicallly, the opposite is true. Protestant individualism contributed to human rights ideas, although they got their biggest boost from the Enlightenment and the good bits of the French Revolution.( Rights of Man etc); whereas Catholicism tilted towards authoritarian, preferably Catholic rule. The difference is NI can surely be explained more by Prods’ historic identification with the State and Catholic suspicion of it, with a preference for legal over political guarantees for what still remains the minority, if the politcal settlmenrt were to go belly up. Whether these insecurities eventually ease in our new polity remains to be seen. For all Alisadair McDonnell’s support for an HR Bill, I detect little enthusiasm for one throughout the system. Polticians instinctively resist surrendering power to the courts if they can get a handle on it themselves. And very few of them want to rock the boat and create new unpopular monority “rights” like abortion and end the exemption of teachers from fair employment laws which buttress sectarian education.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    I think you have a different report in the Irish Times in mind.

  • Brian Walker

    Sorry,Pete, I was commenting above on Dan’s main report on the conference by mistake. I can’t resist one observation on FitzGerld’s remark:

    “Citing Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and former DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley, Dr FitzGerald said they tended to “get the better of interviewers and to gain support and prestige rather than being exposed by access to these media”.

    Not with me and some others in earlier days, they didn’t. But interviews with Adams were very rare and didn’t really take off until after 1983 election and finally after the end of the absurd broadcasting ban, when they tended to become too common. The problem wasn’t so much Adams’ forensic skill as the inability to press home charges against him over the curious barefaced denials that continue to undermine his credibility to this day. People tended to give up challenging him, fearing they’d sound like a cracked record and believing that the audience knew the score in any case. This meant that too many Adams interviews became a curious ritual. Paisley interviews I felt, tended to be a good deal more revealing if not always in ways he intended.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Historically the opposite is true?
    Laughable.
    Catholicism preserved human rights against megalomaniacs which is why tyrants like Robespierre and Henry VIII, and laterally Stalin and Hitler,had great difficulty with it, with the abolishment of the monasteries went the health and social services of the day, the balance of power between the nobles and the peasant and the resulting emergence of western capitalism.

    The extension of the deformation by the French masonic revolution saw further erosion of the rights of the lower classes as the middle class grabbed power just as the nobles did in the Deformation. One of the first acts by the French masons were to abolish the Guilds, the representatives of the “working class” for example.

    The modern Human Rights agenda and its proponents are just the descendants of these masonic revolutionaries. They want to destroy social cohesion by promoting individualism, and that is were the irony creeps in.

    Their agenda is closer to Protestant social theory than Catholic to my mind, but it is a corruption of that too. It certainly is not Catholic.

    Which is why traditional Catholics are also against the present “human rights” agenda. These advocates of “human rights” like their antecedents in France, are wedded to death. Just as the French decapitated the undesirable this crowd will exchange the tumbril for the hospital trolley and Madame Guillotine with the scalpel and pipette of the abortionists.

    And if you become old and vulnerable these people will not hesitate to take granny to the river and diguise this as a mercy.

    If you want to preserve human rights read the gospel and put the social message therein into effect. The “rights” of Robespierre and Marx leads to enslavement and/or death.

  • J Walsh

    “The “rights” of Robespierre and Marx leads to enslavement and/or death.”

    There’s more to positive liberty than that old trope.

  • Coll Ciotach

    To get back on thread. It is obvious that Garrett is trying to throw up a smoke screen to defend the undefendable. He cannot bring himself to admit that the 2nd greatest intellect/ego in Ireland was wrong so he seeks to blame others, (in this case journalists, always an easy option for the politico to shot the messenger) for creating the circumstances in which he had no other choice, poor fellow.

    Everyone surely would admit that the exposure of people to the inquisition of a free press will only do good.

    Let the people listen, they are not stupid and no matter how crafty they people will eventually see the emporer has no clothes if that is the case.

    I wonder if Garrett ever stopped to think how journalists, and by extension the public they serve, will view this insult to their intellect and integrity.

    But then the 2nd greatest intellect/ego in Ireland needent concern himself with trivialities such as the public does he?

  • Coll Ciotach

    “positive liberty” Surely that is old trope in this context

  • underwood

    I know it isn’t strictly the subject of this thread, but I was as delighted to see Brian’s intervention here as Brian was to see Dan Keenan’s report.

    When I read the purported comments of Dr Somebody or Other from the PUP, I almost choked. Where on earth did he get that rubbish from.
    You cannot blanket any religion in this sphere, hence Coll has something of a historical point as well, but in general Brian is far closer to the truth of the thing.
    I acknowledge that the PUP guy may have been quoted out of context, but if he wasn’t, I have to wonder what he’s doing with a doctorate, or what it’s in, certainly not history.

  • J Walsh

    It’s a matter of opinion. I’m not minded to write a defence of the terror right now, and certainly not on a blog’s comment section. However, you might enjoy this:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7581348588228662817&ei=w9abSpnUA5XnlQeIm-y5Dg&q=the+trap+curtis

  • Glensman

    Read this this morning, unbelievable. Apparently he was protecting Catholics from unionist attacks by silencing journalists?

    Pathetic, revisionism at its worst.

    I remember attending a conference where Michael D said he got rid of the broadcasting ban because the actor who re-spoke Adams’ speeches was Much more articulate than Adams himself…. Which is it?

  • Rory Carr

    Like every political trickster who preceded him Garret Fitzgerald tries to persuade us that the only way to preserve democratic freedom, when it clashed with his agenda, was to deny democratic freedom. In another context, in another arena we were told by one of his like minded thinkers that “the village was destroyed in order to save it”.

    It is amusing however to ask us to believe that journalists had no experience of dealing with politicians who “had no hesitation in lying” before Gerry Adams came along. In any case censorship has ever been applied not to stop the spread of lies but always to stop the spread of truth and to guard against the effect such might have upon a public long used to the lies of government.

  • Brian Walker

    Coll, As fine a roaring case for tridentine catholicism as I’ve ever read. But certainly not one the Church would argue today. The French clerical right of C19 and the Spanish Francoites would be proud of you. Just a mite too polemical to convince perhaps? I regret the way the English monasteries were dissolved in the 1530s. But not one for Monica I think.

  • John O’Connell

    I think you’ll find, Rory, that when Gerry Adams lied people died. It’s a subtle difference.

  • Glensman

    And when he told the truth- people would die with or without GA.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    “The problem wasn’t so much Adams’ forensic skill as the inability to press home charges against him over the curious barefaced denials that continue to undermine his credibility to this day. People tended to give up challenging him, fearing they’d sound like a cracked record and believing that the audience knew the score in any case. This meant that too many Adams interviews became a curious ritual.”

    That’s a fair point. But it still results in interviews in which an elected representative is unchallenged on claims made. And, with an electorate apparently unwilling to care, that’s a doubly unhealthy state of affairs. As we’ve seen with the claims over the timing of the devolution of policing and justice powers.

    Of course, the situation has progressed since those early days..

  • Pete Baker

    Just to add, Brian.

    There was one interview I remember in particular.

    I believe it was on ITV [not UTV], probably late 90s early 2000s, where Martin McGuinness was refusing to be drawn on a provocative answer he had given to a ‘stupid’ question.

    His response was, to paraphrase, that he had to be allowed to answer in that way.

  • kensei

    That’s a fair point. But it still results in interviews in which an elected representative is unchallenged on claims made. And, with an electorate apparently unwilling to care, that’s a doubly unhealthy state of affairs

    Yes. Damn that pesky electorate that doesn’t share your particular obsessions Pete :rolleyes:

  • latcheeco

    Brian ,
    Congratulations on your self-congratulations, and I’m sure you were an exception but journalism during the troubles, with a few rare exceptions, was abyssmal. Assenting to the dubbing of voices was the least of it. Many of your fourth estate colleagues shamelessly took copy straight from Lisburn (via for instance the legendary bar at the Europa) and published or presented it as news. Few were in any way objective. It would have been nice if the various branches of HMG were given the same grilling you think Gerry and Ian were. How many difficult interviews did Jack Hermon get? That would have been a press to be proud of.And how long did it take to expose Branch and army collusion despite claims it existed for decades and despite the North practically having a journo on every corner?

  • Am I missing something?
    Why does Fitzgerald use Paisley as an example? I did not think he suffered under section 31! Could someone clarify, just for info.

  • Pete Baker

    ken

    Look again.

    I don’t care what obsessions the electorate do, or don’t, share with me.

    Just as long as they care about what their representatives say and do.

  • kensei

    Pete

    And apparently you are basing this on the fact West Belfast isn’t jumping up and down on P&J? Perhaps the electorate are capable of making more complex judgements on their own.

    *yawn*

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    Drop the straw men.

    To repeat myself

    I don’t care what obsessions the electorate do, or don’t, share with me.

    Just as long as they care about what their representatives say and do.

  • kensei

    Pete

    You can repeat yourself endlessly as usual, but you are suggesting they don’t care about their representatives do. On what basis? Oh wait, that they don’t share your tedious obsessions.

    Unless you’d care to explain yourself better *yawn*

  • fin

    Are these Journos the same seekers of truth who dutifully attended BA/NIO press briefings over the years and printed whatever they were told to print regardless or indeed the same seekers of truth embedded in Iraq and Afganistan who do the same today.

    Speaking of which Pete, when a British PrimeMinister lies a lot more people die than ever died in NI.

    And lets not even mention the recent President of America who served two terms and lied as a career in between prayer meetings

    Is Garrets issue more to do with Adams ability to get an audience on his side during aggressive interviews as when he appeared on the Late Late Show.