Credit: Gript

SIMON GRIFFIN: I attended the Stephen’s Green protest, and this is why

Gardai and protesters at the anti-lockdown protest in Dublin on 27th February 2021 Photo Credit: Krzysztof M

Unbiased journalism, and critical inquiry is absent in reporting of lockdown protests 

‘When a fallacy is left unchallenged, it becomes strengthened in the average mind as the absolute truth’. This is something the mainstream media in Ireland know only too well. Following the anti-lockdown protests in Stephen’s Green and the ensuing scramble to denounce the protestors as members of the far-right, the conclusion can safely be drawn that the majority of the media have abdicated all responsibility towards objectivity, and that the only real ‘slap in the face’ was towards unbiased journalism and critical inquiry.

Having attended the protest myself, something I have no qualms in admitting, I was struck by the fact that most of the media were absent, a point John McGuirk of Gript Media appropriately highlighted on PrimeTime. Apparently primary sources are no longer necessary in the journalistic community. Moreover, due to this lack of journalistic boots-on-the-ground, so to speak, the media could not provide the public with a single interview with a protestor. Not that they would wish to, as this would undermine the ability of them to brand everyone who marched in opposition to the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 virus as members of the faceless far-right.

And why did I march?

I marched because my place of employment has been shut for over 175 days and counting. I marched because the Government have now capped my income at 350euro per week without any concern of my own financial situation. I marched because I refuse to have my Government dictate to me and others, what businesses are essential and what businesses are non-essential. I marched because I wish to be responsible for my own health and I do not require anybody else to manage this on my behalf. These hardly seem like the concerns of a political extremist or a conspiratorial lunatic, however according to the media, I am both.

Newstalk FM’s presenter, Dr. Ciara Kelly, added fuel to the fire when asked her opinion of the protest, stating ‘I thought it was appalling, to be honest, I thought, seeing, and apparently, there was about two thousand people outside Stephen’s Green shopping centre hurling weapons, hurling fireworks, I felt very sorry for the Gardai who were up against it’.

Now, if anyone can find me footage or evidence of two thousand protestors hurling weapons and fireworks, I will eat my hat and wear a mask while I drive solo from now on. Dr. Kelly added that she does not know ‘how we tackle that level of crackpot misinformation’, having just misinformed the listeners regarding the actions of protestors who were almost all peaceful and law-abiding.

However, the award for most egregiously worded statement must be given to Louise O’Reilly, Sinn Fein’s spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, who stated emphatically on RTE News that ‘if you are anti-mask, you are anti-worker’. So much for nuance, huh? O’Reilly made this statement despite the fact that many of those protesting, did so in an attempt to express their dissatisfaction with the Government’s closure of their places of employment. The political gaslighting continued as she stated that ‘clearly what happened yesterday was the far-right acting, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the left’. The speed at which Sinn Fein sought to disassociate themselves from the plight of the working man and woman should be seen as a real warning to those still under the illusion that Sinn Fein is the party of working people. This façade has dropped and Sinn Fein has shown themselves to be the party of hyper-progressives, who are evidently quite happy to wash their hands of dirty right-wing causes such as freedom or liberty.

By suggesting that all the protestors in attendance were members of the tinfoil hat brigade or the far right, the mainstream media have made a mockery of the people they proclaim to represent. I cannot help but wonder, had the mainstream media provided a more critical and investigative standard of work over the past decade, would the small number of fringe movements have sprouted up at all. If the journalistic community had stood by its original aim, to provide a coherent voice to those who do not have the capabilities to express themselves succinctly, perhaps the country would be a little less divided and a little more informed.

As the dust settles, I cannot help but lament the many stories that have gone unreported. While attending the protest I spoke to restauranteurs, café owners, gym owners, make-up artists, barbers, clothing boutique staff, and many other employees of businesses deemed ‘non-essential’. Each of these had an opinion to express, yet the mainstream media and found it ideologically neater to brand these people as far-right, conspiracy theorists, hell-bent on violence, misinformation, and division. But that was not the case.

The truth is that the vast majority of people in attendance were simply individuals tired of endless lockdowns, tired of Zoom meetups, people who simply want to work and feed their families, to go for a pint with their mates and return to normality. People who are tired of having their lives put on hold, alongside people who are willing to stand up to the Government’s destruction of our economy, our social lives, while endangering our children’s future.

If these fallacies go unchallenged, we may yet witness the splitting of Irish communities along politically ideological lines, with those who feel unrepresented and marginalised sending a message to those who dismiss and demonise them.

 


 

Simon Griffin is an independent personal trainer in the fitness industry

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