Apparently Gerry Adams TD, leader of the political party the polls declare the most popular in the country, has issued a death-threat to the editor of the Irish Independent newspaper. At least that is how the more self-entitled sections of the media establishment are framing reports of a speech and blog post he made in recent days, albeit reports couched in suitably ambiguous language. The reason for the coyness by the rarely rhetoric-shy press? Simply that the Sinn Féin president made no such threat or anything close to such a threat. Something the hireling specialists in libel law would have made clear to the headline writers.
Nevertheless a mere aside in a public speech and some pointed historical reminders in a short article have been transformed into a “veiled threat” to the great and the good of Irish journalism (notice the scare quotes; reporters quoting themselves!). Meanwhile those self-same members of the Fourth Estate continue to publish article after article attacking Sinn Féin in the hope of changing public opinion and the outcome of Ireland’s next general election. With the ballot box in one hand and the newspaper in the other the denizens of Independent House have rowed in behind the parties of Right and Centre-Right, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, in the hope of thwarting the SF advance (with the odd morsel thrown to the decrepit Labour Party or Lucinda Creighton’s stillborn saviours of Randinista capitalism).
Hysterical hyperbole has become the raison d’être of such titles as the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent and the Herald. Cranks and mavericks, political careerist and ideologues have filled the pages of the press with their paranoid ravings. They would have us believe that Sinn Féin and parties of the non-republican Left threaten our democracy while failing to observe the irony in a media that refuses to recognise the democratic mandate of those parties it disagrees with. They suggest that the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets to protest the imposition of iniquitous taxes are under the influence of “sinister” elements, unseen actors who “…favour imprisoning Irish Water workers in their vans, or pulling guns on them, or assaulting gardai“. No matter that these exaggerated claims are untrue, that no guns have been produced at any protests. To make the statement is to make it true in the Orwellian nightmare the newspaper columnists would keep us trapped in. Even the revolutionary roots of the nation state they inhabit are open to counter-factual falsehoods, distortions and misinterpretations. The self-declared defenders of the state are themselves a cancer at its heart, corrupting it from the inside out.
All of this is mere political pornography for the Irish overclass, crude appeals to the passions and perversions of the morally bankrupt. Those who have reigned without interruption for so long fear the risen people and so their journalistic acolytes reach for the lumpen weapons of yesteryear: fear and uncertainty, bribery and subversion. Sinn Féin is a political party and as such it should be subject to the same levels of criticism as any other in our country. As its leader Gerry Adams has been less than honest on his personal role in the resistance to the continued British Occupation over the north-eastern corner of our island nation. Both he and SF as a whole have need for greater honesty – and even humility. The emergence of the Maíria Cahill scandal and the disgraceful reaction of some in Sinn Féin has, taken with other events, justifiably placed the party under the spotlight. That is as it should be.
However what we are now witnessing goes far beyond debates over the history of the Long War. The newspaper titles of the Independent News and Media monopoly, with allies elsewhere, have clearly launched a renewed campaign to destroy Sinn Féin as a political force in this country. This is driven by a corporate ideology that is not just hostile to SF and the movement it represents but to the tradition of Irish republicanism as a whole. It is about questioning and undermining the very independence of the nation state of Ireland, about taking a British-apologist, almost Neo-Unionist view of both the past and the present. Furthermore it represents a hosting forth of a long-seated establishment, the Irish continuity state, against an array of perceived enemies who would challenge the accepted status quo of Right and Centre-Right parties governing in perpetuity. It is the lords and ladies of the Big House looking on in horror at the threat from the corner boys and girls to their carefully constructed hegemony, a system built upon the dead of Ireland’s long ago civil war.
For where there is a revolution there is also a counter-revolution.