From the Archives

Twitter creates new low in Irish Politics… Or so they would like you to think

“As politicians have parliamentary privilege for what they say in the course of their duties, there must be a corollary public privilege to criticise, to assert meaningful control over the political process, and the means to effect that control is through the media”

(Anthony Lewis, John Foster Memorial Lecture 1987)

IT was all twitters fault. Or so the current incumbents in Fianna Fail would have us think.

From Willie to Biffo, it seems the greatest threat to the health of the nation is by twitters sounding off and causing trouble.

Well sorry to burst your bubble lads but we would not be tweeting about you if it were not for your actions.

It would seem helpful if one of the aids, far from keeping an eye on their charges, would also bring Article 40.6.1 (i) of the Constitution to their attention

The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.
The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

Organs of public opinion have been judicially interpreted in line with prevailing technology. Hence television is brought under this definition even though it is not stated. Therefore one could reasonably included “the twitter” as an organ of public opinion. Also it fair comment to criticise members of the government including our Taoiseach as they are responsible for Government Policy. In fact, commenting on the personal life of a public representative may even be as valid if their personal life starts to affect the level of professionalism of a public representive.

The attempts to paint today’s saga as a new low in Irish politics is actually a dangerous move. The very fact that some commentators have sought to frame the events in this light is even more dangerous. It’s as if we are not entitled to question what our representatives are doing, because if we do, we will damage democracy.

Also, it’s not as if these comments were never thought or spoken before. People have always been commenting on their politicians. The only thing that is different is that these comments are now shared on a global level through media such as twitter and facebook.

Well the democracy that I support is a one where we are entitled to comment on our politicians, whether this comment be good or bad.