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Ireland Comment: Taoiseach's talk was cheap but did reveal uncomfortable truths

12:21  05 july  2018
12:21  05 july  2018 Source:   independent.ie

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Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author on behalf of our content partner and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft

Mandate: Leo Varadkar. Picture: PA © Provided by Irish Independent Mandate: Leo Varadkar. Picture: PA It will come as breaking news to many 'media luvvies' but Leo Varadkar has a point.

The reaction to the Taoiseach's attack on journalists at a private lunch in New York has been nothing short of hysterical.

No doubt, he had a go at the 'hacks', particularly those of us in the Leinster House press gallery - but is it really that big of a deal?

Mr Varadkar's real mistake was leaving himself open to suggestions that he agrees with Donald Trump's view of the world.

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Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks to a gathering celebrating the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland, May 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi © Catalyst Images Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks to a gathering celebrating the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland, May 26, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Trump has described named news outlets as the "enemy of the American people".

It would be a stretch to argue that Mr Varadkar shares such a hatred of the fourth estate.

At the lunch, the Taoiseach mused that journalists are a bunch of gossips. That's not fake news.

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks at an all All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dundalk, Ireland, April 30, 2018. Picture taken April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne © Catalyst Images Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks at an all All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dundalk, Ireland, April 30, 2018. Picture taken April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Anybody who has paid a moment's notice to the Disclosures Tribunal over recent months could only reach that conclusion.

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And as with parenting, you soon realize you can't imagine not doing it, because it' s simply part of who you are . While we love to talk about life balance, mindfulness, making time for what' s important, taking care of your physical and A little uneasy with that? I said this was an uncomfortable truth .

Mr Varadkar suggested journalists are under more pressure than ever to churn out stories. Again, most reporters would be hard pressed to disagree.

He claimed that the print media are often critical of social media companies because they are a threat to business. There's an element of truth in that.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar delivers a lecture on the Future of Europe before the Wilfried Martens Fund at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Leuven, Belgium April 26, 2018.  REUTERS/Yves Herman © Catalyst Images Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar delivers a lecture on the Future of Europe before the Wilfried Martens Fund at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Leuven, Belgium April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

And the Taoiseach complained there are too many political correspondents in Leinster House. On this point, he's wrong - but most TDs would probably agree with him.

Newsrooms have been gutted in recent years but the journalists still active are making an impact.

Irish journalism is struggling. Local papers are in decline, national newsrooms are being squeezed, British redtops are being dropped in at knock-down prices and nobody has figured out how to make sustainable money from the internet.

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In the end, what she came to represent for the liberation movement to which she dedicated her life was its unvarnished and even more uncomfortable truths . But there was one thing that Walker did get right.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman © Catalyst Images Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Good journalism isn't cheap. The Taoiseach's talk was cheap - but so too was some of the response.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald turned freedom fighter for the free press.

"The media is an essential part of our democracy. Of course it's very serious that the head of Government would launch such an attack in such an indiscriminate way," the shiny new Sinn Féin leader said.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman © Catalyst Images Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

This is the same politician who defended her predecessor Gerry Adams when he went Stateside and made light of the fact a gun was once held to the head of an Irish Independent editor.

Micheál Martin cleverly pointed out in the Dáil how the media had faithfully reported on all the Government's big announcements in recent times that have led to little.

But Mr Martin isn't a massive fan of the political correspondents either. The leader of the Opposition hasn't appeared on the plinth to face questions since February 2017.

Family of Irishman (20) missing for almost a month call on Taoiseach for assistance

  Family of Irishman (20) missing for almost a month call on Taoiseach for assistance The family of a young Irishman missing in the Netherlands for almost a month have called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to get involved. A missing Interpol report has been filed for 20-year-old John Power, from Waterford, who went missing in Maastricht on June 9. His parents have been appealing to anyone in either Berlin and Maastricht who have information on their son to come forward. Michael and Jenna Powers are now urging Mr Varadkar to organise a meeting with the Dutch Ambassador to address the lack of "professionalism and competence" of local police involved in the investigation of John's disappearance.

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But featured within the article are several interesting, uncomfortable , and often-overlooked facts about Putin, Trump, and Democrats. But what they almost never comment on is the rather significant question of whether Putin’ s claims are true: Does the U. S ., in fact, try to manipulate Russian politics

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, left, during a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 15, 2018. First lady Melania Trump, second from right, and Vice President Mike Pence, right, stand at right. Varadkar presented Trump with a traditional gift of a bowl of shamrocks. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) © Catalyst Images President Donald Trump shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, left, during a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 15, 2018. First lady Melania Trump, second from right, and Vice President Mike Pence, right, stand at right. Varadkar presented Trump with a traditional gift of a bowl of shamrocks. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The reality is that we scrutinise and criticise our TDs so it's no surprise that they might have a moan behind our backs, or even to our faces.

In recent days, I accused Simon Harris of "trotting out" the same old excuses for overspending in health, and derided Eoghan Murphy for posting photographs of himself swimming in pink trunks while the Dáil was grappling with housing.

Our readers trust us to pass judgment on politicians but that doesn't make us infallible.

So let's be honest, some soul-searching on the part of the media might also reveal some uncomfortable truths.

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