Every journalist in the world is influenced one way or another by his or her personal beliefs and values. Simple common sense tells us that and to be frank would we want news reporters who serve as little more than conveyor-belts of information? However the line between “influence” and “acting in accordance with” is a fine one. In Ireland that line was crossed over many decades ago. The majority of “established” Irish journalists make no real pretence at neutrality in their reporting. Many act as little more than propaganda machines for whatever point of view (or party) they agree with. That is never more true than on the issue of Britain’s continued colonial presence on our island nation and all the troubles that have spilled from that, both current and past. In the 1970s much of RTÉ’s news and current affairs department fell under the thrall of committed “anti-Republicans” through the entryist tactics of the Workers Party and its acolytes. An entire generation of Irish people had their world-view perverted by committed ideologues in a manner unprecedented in western Europe. Arguably those self-same people, through their coordinated selection and misrepresentation of contemporary news events, contributed to prolonging the conflict in the north-east of Ireland by decades. Many of those former young Turks, though now approaching the ends of their careers, remain in positions of authority throughout the Irish media and continue to dictate its journalistic ethics.
As we see the merging of fringe elements of Irish Republicanism with a criminal underworld that pervades Irish society it still occurs to no one in the media to raise or ask the obvious questions. Would the so-called “New IRA” and the Continuity IRA exist if the British Occupation did not also exist, albeit now confined to the north-east of Ireland? Would Mafia-style gangs have been able to embed themselves as generational-enterprises in poorer urban communities if the Irish political classes had not been so engaged in their half-hearted suppression of an insurgency against a foreign power occupying part of their national territory (when not lining their own pockets)? And what if the Irish news media had been more honest with its readers and viewers? What if it had told the whole truth over the last four decades and not just the partial or half-truths dictated by propaganda considerations (or enthusiastically obeyed government censorship)?
“Drugs and the IRA arrived together in the late 1960s, but security of the State took priority and received most resources, a gathering of former parliamentarians was told today.
Former member of the Garda Ombudsman Commission Conor Brady said Ireland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world but one of the highest illegal drugs usage rates in the EU.
“Over the decades that drugs were insinuating themselves into Irish life, the bulk of Garda resources, the bulk of Garda energies and most of the personnel in detective areas went into the struggle against subversion,” he said during a meeting of the Irish Association of Former Parliamentarians in the Seanad chamber.
By the time resources were put into dealing with illegal drugs in the 1980s, it was a “classic case of too little, too late”.
And they had to be aware of the “hidden costs of the Troubles which we continue to pay in the drugs problem”.
Mr Brady, a former editor of The Irish Times said drugs and the IRA arrived together in the late 1960s as far as the Garda was concerned. “But the responses to the two challenges were very different.”
He told the Irish Association of Former Parliamentarians that within months of the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland the special Criminal Courts were in operation, a wing had been cleared in Mountjoy prison to house subversive prisoners.
However, he said “the establishment simply didn’t treat drugs as a priority”.
The first drugs squad was established in 1968 with three staff. This increased to nine three years later, when at the same time 600 extra gardaí were assigned to the Border.
He said one drug squad detective said to him in the 1980s: “I wish the Provos would get into the drugs trade, then I might get some resources.” [ASF: emphasis added]
It was only with the emergence of Concerned Parents Against Drugs in the mid-1980s, with the fear communities could be subverted by the IRA, that the Dublin city drug squads got resources.”
So much for the gangs of “IRA drug-dealers” that so preoccupied Irish newspapers and political speeches during the 1980s and ’90s. In fact the opposite was true. But then when wars are being fought truth is often the first casualty. The media in Ireland are as complicit in the Mafiaisation of our nation as any number of masked gunmen (or corrupt and corruptible politicians). They misrepresent and misinterpret what is really happening in order to match pre-set ideological beliefs and agreed narratives that cannot be veered from. No attempt is made to get to the origins and sources of crime. It is all surface reporting, sensationalist tabloid stuff replete with anti-heroes and “campaigning” journalists. Fighting the same old war when another war has begun.
“It’s twelve months since Alan Ryan, Officer Commanding the “Real” IRA in Dublin City, was assassinated by members of the capital’s notoriously violent and repercussion-free criminal underworld in circumstances that have yet to be fully explained. Whatever one’s feeling about Ryan and the confluence of those on the edges of Irish Republican ideology and activism with Ireland’s drug-dealing cartels (and I for one am a staunch critic) there is no doubt that his killing was something of a “game-changer”. Up to 2012 most Dublin crime-gangs took a subservient position to Irish Republican revolutionary or military organisations wherever the two butted up against each other. Since the 1980s the “taxation” of criminal organisations had formed a very minor part of the military budget of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army in its war against the British Forces in the Occupied North. A number of unwritten rules governed this loose and even within the Republican Movement highly controversial association which kept violent disagreements to a minimum.
However by the mid and late 1990s those rules had begun to unravel as the Irish Republican Army’s decades old struggle came to a negotiated end via the Irish-British Peace Process and Ireland’s emerging crime cartels began to stretch their violent muscles in the new, post-war era of the Celtic Tiger. Through their experiences stemming from the internal rivalries that tore apart the criminalised Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and its IPLO off-shoot the nation’s narco-gangs found themselves on an equal gun-for-gun, member-for-member footing with any Republican counterpart, whether the genuine thing or simply a “flag of convenience” for apolitical crime (as some would argue Ryan’s section of the Real IRA were engaged in and parts of the so-called New IRA may still be).
Ireland’s current criminal underworld, the cartels that act with relative impunity in our largest cities, are as much children of the post-ceasefires’ Peace Process and Celtic Tiger decade as any number of corrupt bankers, lawyers or politicians. They stem from the same toxic cocktail of unregulated affluence, greed, selfishness and cultural disintegration mixed with political and judicial maleficence. In one sense Alan Ryan was no different from any of his Tiger Cub peers. He looked the same, he dressed the same, he talked the same and on many things no doubt he thought the same too.”
You can see more on this over at Vice magazine.