HIggins: Politicians must stand up to poorly informed and regular attacks…

I have a confession to make. As a class of people I like politicians, regardless of party. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Michael D Higgins at the BIPA. He’s at the senior end of his career, so has a certain rather useful perspective to share on life as a public representative. Today’s Irish Times covers his contribution in the Dail Committee on the Constitution debate:

“Really bad programmes like The Frontline , presented by Pat Kenny, are ones which really degrade politics altogether. You assemble an audience . . . you insist that you’re going to go from one to the other, not allowing anybody to finish.

“And then you turn to the camera, and say ‘that is all we have time for, I’m afraid’.”

Mr Higgins said when he was first elected to the Dáil in 1981, a serious political reporter or commentator would have been acquainted with political philosophy and history, but “that is rather gone now”.

He said most commentators now ceased working sometime between lunchtime on Wednesday and Thursday morning, after that it was “a matter of gathering gossip for the Sunday papers”.

Mr Higgins called on all those who stood for election to “have more bottle” and stand up to poorly informed and regular attacks on politicians.

Frontline is gripping, but it can also be a cross between Joe Duffy’s phone in on speed and a Russian courtroom. And this is absolutely bang on too:

Referring to clientelism, he said some TDs would always be “insecure enough” to go around knocking on doors asking people if they had a problem, “when they should be spending time with their loved ones”.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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