Monday, January 21, 2013

forget the 25,000 protesters; what about Fr Flannery?

There was a rather interesting response from the Irish Times ('The Paper of Record') print edition today to the the vast rally of between 25,000 & 30,000 who gathered in Dublin on Saturday to demonstrate to the Irish government their displeasure at their proposed abortion legislation (& the pro-choice counter demonstration 200). Nothing on the front page. Fair enough. On Monday, Saturday is a long time ago in journalism. But page eight seems a little far in. Especially, when garnished with a rather snide side-bar trying to put a negative spin on it all.

OK, maybe this is par for the course on this issue. After all, it is no secret where the IT stands.

But surprisingly, there wasn't a whisper in the centre pages reserved for opinion & analysis. I'd have expected something ... this is a huge issue in Ireland right now, and a massive rally against the direction the government is proposing would merit some kind of editorial comment I'd have thought. A musing reflection that if so many are willing to brave the severe winter weather to express their opposition to this, perhaps the government should pause for thought. But nada; not even a 'letter to the editor' from either side, playing the event up or down depending on the side the writer is on (and don't tell me that no one wrote in about this; that's just not possible).

What was on both the front page and the opinion pages was the case of Fr Tony Flannery (here,  here, & here), a Redemptorist priest who was disciplined by his order for publishing writings that were considered not to be in accordance with Catholic teaching. The general thrust of both pieces is that Fr Flannery and his supporters feel he is being unfairly treated. 

Am I wrong to suspect that this is an attempt to deflect? It could be co-incidence. But timing is everything and the timing is suspect. There's been nothing much on this man for months (and truthfully, in the wider scheme of things, how much national importance attaches to the relationship between a single priest has and his order?). And then, less than 36 hours after one of the biggest anti-abortion demonstrations in modern times, he suddenly warrants the front page? It's hard not to suspect an attempt to try and get people to think 'Forget about all this abortion business; that's just old-fashioned 'churchy' nonsense; & we all know how mean and out of touch these churchy types are! Just see what they're doing to Fr Flannery!' 

Call me suspicious; call me cynical. But I call this deflection, damage control, an attempt to move the focus elsewhere.

And if they feel the need to behave this way, does it mean they are worried about how things are going?


  1. I shan't call you any of your suggested names. Instead, I'll call you perceptive.

    Very, very perceptive.

  2. Oh, and I linked this via FB, too. This was simply too spot-on not to pass along.