Tuesday, September 12, 2017

At least Leo remembers where he was ... !

If you want to see how modern Ireland works, take a look at the media coverage of the devastating floods across India, Bangladesh, and Nepal last week and contrast them with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida.                                                    
Flooding in Bangladesh, September 2017

It may have escaped your attention that more than 1,200 people died in South Asia last week, with more than 40 million affected by the severe flooding, but you would never know that if you received all your news from mainstream Irish media.

In Florida, two people had died as of late Monday night, but you heard a lot more about the hurricane in the US than the 18,000 schools which were destroyed or damaged in South Asia, leaving 1.8 million children unable to attend their classes.

It’s quite clear that some lives are far more important – and worthy of reportage – than others.

And that’s just the way President Donald Trump wants you to think, as he and elements of the media divide the world into “us” and “them” while playing on our fears.

Why should we care about “illegal” Mexicans or Muslims when we don’t see them on our TV screens?

If you want to know how Ireland works, have a look at the way in which the anniversary of the appalling terrorist attacks on 9/11 is marked with tribute pieces and eyewitness recollections every September.

Of course, the attacks in September 2001 shocked the globe. They had a particular resonance here in Ireland, where so many people have connections with the United States, but our media only tell a tiny part of the story.

Irish-Americans were rightly proud when Ireland declared a national day of mourning in response to those terrorist attacks.

In terms of Irish media coverage, Syrian lives don't matter much
People should never forget Ground Zero, but don’t we diminish ourselves as human beings when we make it clear that some lost lives are not even worthy of reportage?

Do we question enough? Do our TV news channels really tell us everything that’s going on?

How often do they ask us to stop and think of the innocent lives lost in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, or Libya as a result of US bombings since 9/11?

How often are we told the human stories behind the estimated 26,000 bombs which were dropped by the US last year? Do they matter?

Or do we not care because these people have been dehumanised by those in comfy offices who plan drone attacks? And by the news editors who decided not to even bother telling us about their bombs?

Take just one example. In July of last year, 85 people lost their lives in the village of Tokhar, in Northern Syria. They were killed by US air strikes, but their deaths did not even merit a mention on the main evening news.

Is it a case that their lives don’t matter? How can we care about them when we aren’t even told about their deaths? Just as we don’t tend to see the victims of the Bangladeshi floods on our TV screens.

If you want to know how modern Ireland works, take a trip down to Shannon Airport on a Sunday afternoon.

Once a month for 16 years now, a small group of peace activists have congregated in rain, wind, or sunshine to highlight the fact that a civilian airport in a ‘neutral’ country has effectively been transformed into a US military base.

You will see special branch Gardai filming the peace activists and jotting down their car registrations.

Funny how they have not once stopped to search one of the US military planes bringing so much death and destruction to towns and cities across Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

But we don’t like to talk about that in Leo Varadkar’s Ireland.

Instead we have a Taoiseach who tweets about where he was when Princess Diana died, 20 years ago, on the day two homeless people died on Irish streets.

We have local politicians who can spend a full meeting arguing over whether nor not they should have prayers before meetings, while the homelessness crisis in their city has reached unprecedented levels.

We have politicians who pay tribute to a retiring Garda Commissioner who was in charge of our police force when a brave, honest whistleblower was branded a sex abuser and almost 1.5 million bogus drink and drug-driving tests were conjured up out of thin air.

US troops at 'neutral' Shannon Airport

We have the retiring managing director of the laughable Irish Water company waving goodbye with €655,000 in salary, severance, and pension contributions in his final year.

This is taxpayers’ money, a reward for leading a venture – mired in controversy from day one – which now won’t even see the light of day.

We have patients lying on trolleys in our public hospitals, makeshift tent villages hidden away behind trees and bushes in our major cities, and an unprecedented rental crisis, but, hell, at least An Taoiseach can remember where he was the day Princess Diana died.

Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and content writer, based in Galway, Ireland. He is available for freelance and travel writing. Find him on Facebook here


Find Ciaran Tierney on Twitter, @ciarantierney

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