Michael McNamara has hit out at RTÉ for “driving anxiety” and has claimed that NPHET is not taking full account of mental health considerations when considering lockdowns. Some of the mainstream media coverage of the Covid-19 crisis is adding to the high levels of stress and anxiety amongst the population he said.

He also claimed that the media’s reliance on government funding during the crisis meant that they were “attacking those who question what is going on”.

The Clare TD told the Dáíl that RTÉ – which he described as “another arm of the government” – was driving anxiety and was “practically going out to Dublin Airport to burn witches live on air” – actions he described as an “absolute disgrace”.

He said that Irish people were working and living in an “incredibly oppressive society at the moment” and that this was “largely driven by elements in the media”.

 

The TD said he was attacked in the media for questioning whether NPHET was taking full consideration of mental health, and accused commentators of attacking him and attempting to discredit him for probing the issue. He claimed that the minutes of NPHET’s meetings showed that “no account” was taken of mental health up to the time of the second lockdown, and that data on mental health effects for children was not being centrally presented.

He said that there were “massive problems with free media in Ireland” and that the Irish Times had “their hands out”  out looking for money from the government. “God knows they’re entitled to it, they’ve been doing your bidding for a year,” he told the Dáil.

“But where is the free media to come from ..  if the primary income source for media is the department of Health, is the government,” he said. “Of course they are doing the government’s bidding, of course they are driving a narrative, and of course they are attacking those who question what is going on,”

The media narrative on Covid-19 was “oppressive and damaging to society”, the Clare TD said.