On Wednesday, June 19th Deputy Joe Higgins brought forward a motion to recognise the struggle of workers in the 1913 lock-out which marked the 100th anniversary of same. In his speech, Mick points out the similarities between the national media in 1913 and today and their role in promoting the agenda of the establishment. You can read the speech below or watch it here.
I was a member of the Building and Allied Trades' Union, BATU, for many years until there were no more bricks to lay. In 1913, Dublin was a tough place for many people. Taking on the power of the State and big business was never easy, and that fact remains true today. It is interesting to see the role played by the Irish Independent and the Evening Herald back then, both of which were owned by William Martin Murphy, who also owned the Dublin United Tramways Company. It is difficult to believe that the Lock-out is all of 100 years ago. How similar things seem today. The people were railroaded back in 1913 and today we have the ordinary people being made to suffer in the name of austerity and the financial institutions. In 1913, the print media stood firm behind the status quo and the powers that be, vilifying Jim Larkin and anyone who dared to speak up for the workers. Larkin was well aware of the role of the print media in colouring opinion and setting the agenda, so much so that he launched his own newspaper, The Irish Worker and People's Advocate, in 1908. One of the first groups of workers organised by Larkin's union was the newspaper boys, who were largely exploited as a group. This was a move which ensured a large circulation for Larkin's newspaper, which he knew would be helpful to represent the workers' side.
One hundred years on, we do not have an alternative to the mainstream media which, too often, is still allowed to set the agenda. The media and the status quo were on the same side in 1913. Today we see much of the same media act as cheerleaders for the neoliberal agenda imposed on the people at the behest of the EU, ECB and IMF. They all take care of each other. Independent News and Media, INM, whose major shareholder is valued in billions, has just been bailed out by the banks to the tune of €160 million, with €60 million of that likely to fall on the taxpayer. We think our nurses should work for just over €20,000 but it is okay for the taxpayer to part with €60 million for INM. Likewise, our national television and radio broadcaster does not always show a great appetite for challenging the powers that be. In return, the Government is careful not to tamper too much with some of the more inflated salaries in that organisation. "You scratch mine and I'll scratch yours", said the pig to the horse.