Daly, Wallace and the Propaganda War
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh
21 April 2022
Clare Daly and Mick Wallace pictured in the European Parliament.
Amidst the flurry of articles and commentaries by Irish journalists eager to crank up the war machinery and in some cases arguing for WWIII as the lesser of two evils, the decision by Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to not sing along with the blood curdling chorus for war, came as shock to the smug mandarins that rule the Irish print media and the airwaves.
They dared to go against the flow, though it was hardly surprising that they did so. They have had a consistent stance on war and militarism. Nonetheless, the media were taken aback and went into overdrive to challenge, ridicule and besmirch them both. Their decision to not support an EU resolution was widely criticized in the media. They did so, as part of a group of 13 MEPs who refused to back the motion because of its call to militarily aid Ukraine. The reaction from the Irish media was swift and brutal and as with almost all coverage of the war, so over the top it resembled a parody of the state media of North Korea, without the creativity and nuance you might expect from Kim and his family.
It is ironic that a media that resembles a parody of the media in an authoritarian regime have tried to link both Daly and Wallace to such regimes. Writing in the Irish Independent, Kim Bielenberg wrote that “The MEPs’ support for authoritarian regimes has come under closer scrutiny after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now they are accused of ‘victim blaming on a mass scale’.(1) He went on to say that it was not just him but that
…there is growing concern about how two Irish MEPs, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, have spoken in support of authoritarian states…The hyperbole is not worthy of Fox News or the ghost of Senator McCarthy, who is most certainly traipsing through the halls of RTE, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent. There is nothing to the accusation that they support Putin or any other authoritarian regime. As for the globetrotting, they were not part of a 2016 trip of 100 officials to Uruguay
Their performance as globetrotting junketeers defending authoritarian regimes is likely to come under scrutiny from voters if they go before the electorate again.(2)
…which included 40 MEPs as well as administrators and staff, was to attend the annual “Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.” It included a champagne reception to celebrate an obscure literary award and a grilled fish dinner at a beachfront Hyatt hotel, all budgeted at €517,140, according to a European Parliament official.(3)Nor were they even MEPs when John Hume and others flew to Cyprus at a cost of £120,000 for a two-day meeting that coincided with a wedding one of the organisers of the trip was due to attend.(4) Unlike their champagne quaffing colleagues, both of them have travelled abroad on solidarity trips, a concept which is alien to the Irish media.
The Irish Times, not to be outdone by their competitors have published a number of articles decrying the fact that clips of Daly and Wallace have been shown on television networks in countries that are on the current We do not like list. They exclaim that their correspondent Naomi O’Leary has carried out a year-long investigation on the “international footprint of the two MEPs.”(5) The article links to a podcast that opens with Clare Daly’s address to the European Parliament. I wasted 26 minutes of my life, that I will never recover, listening to it. It is a travesty of Daly’s and Wallace’s positions on a host of issues and seeks to link both of them to positions they don’t hold and a simplification of issues, that we have come accustomed to. The podcast by the Irish Times journalist is akin to old McCarthyite tactics of guilt by association, simplification of issues and a twisting of the truth. To listen to the podcast you would think that the two MEPs were singlehandedly responsible for all criticism of the EU position on the war in Ukraine. O’Leary should apply for a post in the next Trump administration in the US or even the current one. Her skills are on the same level as Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders.
It is part of an overall assault not only on the truth but also on the right to dissent. Any criticism of the EU and NATO is akin to support not only for Putin but for all authoritarian regimes in the world. The Irish media has been practically unanimous in its support for NATO, and rather uncritical of US policy. It should be borne in mind that the Irish media has never played a leading role in anything other than support for the gombeen politicians that run the country. If we look at all the scandals that have rocked Irish society, none of them have been uncovered by the Irish media or promoted till they had no choice in the matter. Not the industrial schools, the church sex abuse, the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, the Tuam baby scandal, nor any of the issues that led to various tribunals over the years. Most of the media turned their backs on these issues and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to give any coverage to them.
So, it comes as no surprise to find this same media ganging up on Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, an assault that will continue into the future. The two have hit back and filed a defamation suit against RTE. Though, they should perhaps consider extending that to the Irish Independent and Irish Times. Even on this point they are referred to, by the media, as controversial and outspoken, qualities that would normally fit the job description for an MEP.
The Irish media are determined to stamp out any dissent. Daly and Wallace have not backed down and continue to condemn the war. They have stuck to their guns, understanding that backing down won’t mean the media will go any easier on them or represent their positions correctly. The People Before Profit TDs could do well to learn the lesson. Following Zelensky’s address to the Dáil, they decided to stand as a sign of respect but not applaud as they didn’t agree with everything he said. The media piled on them over their refusal to applaud. This is totalitarian media, only complete surrender on the issue will do for them. They show no quarter and those who think there is some way to be nice to them on this issue are sadly mistaken.
(1) Irish Independent (04/02/2022) Mick Wallace and Clare Daly — the ‘anti-imperialists’ who defended Putin https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/big-read-mick-wallace-and-clare-daly-the-anti-imperialists-who-defended-putin-41407535.html
(3) Politico (04/11/2016)
Frequent flyers: MEPs’ far-flung travel draws criticism https://www.politico.eu/article/frequent-flyers-meps-far-flung-travel-draws-criticism-traveling-circus-nato-scrutiny/
(4) Irish Independent (11/05/1999) MEPs in storm over £120,000 Cyprus junket
(5) Irish Times (21/04/2022) Daly and Wallace: Rising stars in Russia, China and beyond https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/daly-and-wallace-rising-stars-in-russia-china-and-beyond-1.4858265
(6) Irish Independent (12/04/2022) MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly sue RTÉ https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/meps-mick-wallace-and-clare-daly-sue-rte-41545192.html