As recently as 2008, Ireland was ranked the highest western nation in the conservative think tank Heritage Index of Economic Freedom (ranked primarily based on low corporate taxes and deregulated financial markets). As the Irish economy began its self-destruction back in 2007, the fears of the Irish people that it would turn into a dangerous nosedive were allayed. Just a ‘’soft landing,’’ they were informed by Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern. In 2010, when Ireland crashed to an all-time low after accepting a bailout worth €85bn from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, it was more than a dangerous nosedive – it was a cataclysmic financial meltdown and the decimation of a country’s economic sovereignty. We now know what went wrong. But why was it allowed to go on for so long? Why didn’t the media bring injustice to the Irish public’s attention like Carl Bernstein or Bob Woodward did for the American people during the Watergate scandal? The simple answer is that the fourth estate were not allowed to be objective in their journalism or else they risked losing it all.
For the ordinary Irish citizen, there is only one renowned television broadcaster to get all your news from, RTE. When they are being funded by the government, it instills an air of fear inside any broadcaster or journalist working for the organization to say something that goes against your paymaster. Speak out with the truth and risk being fired or keep quiet about the wrongdoing and guiltily accept your over the top salary. One solitary economist and broadcaster spoke out in 2003 and correctly predicted the downfall. His presence on RTE since then has been minimal, with no appearance at all in recent years.
The Irish version of Rupert Murdoch, Denis O’Brien, is right up there with RTE in (mis)informing the masses of everything in the country. In actual fact, his rise to power has been more shady than the Irish banking crisis. It involves the bribery of politicians in order to get his way but that’s a story for another day. Speaking from an economic standpoint, O’Brien’s mediums have been doing their damnedest to downplay Ireland’s financial ruin. According to the man himself in September 2010, Ireland was ‘’in recovery mode.’’ Two months later: busted, and Ireland goes begging to the EU-IMF for €85bn.
Therein lies some of the deep-seated reasons that radical and badly required political and economic change will never ever happen in Ireland. When the general public are not being told the truth and being purposely lied to, they have no idea how badly they are getting screwed over.
In the classic western movie, ”The Outlaw Josey Wales,” a memorable line was quipped which marks a stunning resemblance to most of the media of Ireland: ”Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” From RTE to the O’Brien empire, they’re doing just that and 99% of the Irish people are certain it’s rain!