Declan Ganley’s €50: Social Media & the Virtual Reality of the Irish Political Class No 2

Part two. Im gonna take these as wee chunks as I said in the previous post.


Aw Bless….though other views exist out there

It has been hailed a “landmark case” by most mainstream media (I ain’t linking) earlier this week.  ‘Irish’* businessman Declan Ganley hired celeb-media-lawyer-of-the-celebs-in-media Paul Tweed to force Irish writer/blogger and journalist Kevin Barrington to pay €50 for a tweet Ganley found ‘offensive’. Its seems Ganley got in touch with the police before the tweet was removed and an apology issued. The €50 was paid to The Poor Clares at Ganleys request, one of many organisations in Ireland that have been implicated in decades of abuse of women and children in Ireland.  Children of the Poor Clares, written by Mavis Arnold and Heather Laskey in 2004 outline in horrific detail the systemic abuse.  The statement put out by Tweed calling the donation ‘substantial’ was Ganley’s wording, though those scoffing about €50 not being substantial aren’t poor. Though coming from celeb Tweed, who got Louis Walsh half a million a few weeks back,  its understandable that this seems less of a stunning legal victory laced with high penance and more of an ongoing pub challenge to the lulzy tweeters. Throw in a tenner each as see if you can get a letter from Tweed on Tweeting before the weeks out.

Most of the coverage isnt really coverage. That is unless we speak of coverage in terms of copy/pasting statements from Paul Tweed, and framing this ‘event’ as both a watershed moment yet wedded to the hysteria and moral panic emanating from politicians and journalists alike about poor people and non mainstream media journalists being ‘impolite’ when using ‘new’ communication tools such as Twitter, Facebook and email.  Not one journalist bothered to contact Kevin Barrington himself to get his perspective as they wrote about him.  They were writing about stuff coming from his Twitter account, and quoting his blog, so heres  3 possible reasons for not contacting him.

1 The work pressure to turn around copy is too much to enable the journalists concerned to send an email/tweet/comment on his blog to get his attention.

2 The culture and work practices meant they really didn’t think it important to ask a main party to the story because he wasn’t ‘famous’ like Ganley and Tweed.

3 They couldnt be arsed to learn internetz…..

Clearly didn’t even google Ganley & Barrington, cos if they did they would have known that this is the second time Ganley has took issues with Barrington’s writing. Ganley took The Village magazine to the High Court seeking them to take all the copies of the magazines of the shelves for because of an article written by Barrington. You can read about that here, long and the short of it was Ganley dropped the proceedings in April 2008. The Village offered him an interview in the next issue to answer their investigative questions in the next issue. Editor Michael Smith has this to say at the time

“We attempted to commission a number of Ireland’s most respected journalists including Fintan O’Toole, Keelin Shanley, Michael Clifford, Justine McCarthy and Olivia O’Leary to carry out this interview but for contractual or other reasons they could not do it. We also suggested Frank Connolly, Harry Browne and Damien Kiberd who were willing to do it but Declan Ganley was unwilling to be interviewed by them. He was willing to be interviewed by Vincent Browne or me but Vincent could not do it and I, as editor, felt I should preserve some distance from this legally-driven interview. Declan Ganley wanted to be interviewed by Bruce Arnold. He suggested a list of seven names including George Hook, Jason O’Toole, David Quinn, Eamon Dunphy, Matt Cooper, Richard Waghorne and Hermann Kelly. We were happy with Eamon Dunphy and he generously agreed to do the interview but in the end could not, for contractual reasons. Time was moving on so we felt the best thing in the circumstances was to hear from Mr Ganley in close to his own terms, from a journalist of integrity who is well disposed to him. Bruce Arnold it was.”

So Arnold did a puff piece with Ganley (also at the previous link). If you need be under any illusions about the type of relationship between Ganley and Arnold a few year ago you could read The Fight for Democracy- The Libertas Voice in Europe. I did. Its really worth the read once you get passed the notion that this is any sort of rigorous inquiry. In fact it is the almost massaging tone Arnold adopts – and the chummy plummy ramblings it enables that highlights clearly the type of democratic vision that underpins Ganleys political perspective. And it aint pretty. Its pretty much straight forward British neoconservatism, straight out of the Henry Jackson Institute, dressed up with a wee bit of blarney and shamrock so as not to scare the ponies. One wonders if he would be so gushing today given he is intimate with the past working of The Poor Clares, having written the foreword for the book mentioned earlier authored by his wife Mavis.

I’m pretty versed in flexible nationalisms having grown up in the north, but Ganley’s brand of flexibility is the that type associated with the people in a hurry. They see national identity as a flag of convenience, and the democratic structure of nation states as things to bend, shape, buy off or otherwise capture ( like starting a political movement like Libertas) to suit themselves. There is a difference between the right wing racists and homophobic nationalist parties around Europe Ganley met with and recruited from to his Libertas gig, and the strategy of the gig itself.

Which brings me to the ‘Irish’* from earlier

I use ‘Irish’ as there seems to be a certain ambiguity over what national status Ganley uses depending on what hes doing. Its seems from information on the business transparency website that Ganley is registered as a British national. They list him as current holding two company directorships- both non trading. One is the familiar sounding The Libertas Foundation registered to 167-169 Great Portland Street London W1W 5PF.  This company filed winding up papers on Christmas eve past. Not a bad time to go under the media radar right? The other listed director is a British man called Robin Matthews, who is also director of Authentic Self Limited, an non trading ‘business consultancy’ based in Surrey UK.

Thanks to Cass for this update

So the co director of The Libertas Foundation is a high ranking spin doctor of the British Army. Wholly want one expects of a democracy movement right?

Ganley is also listed as a British director of Ganley International Limited with an Registered address 167-169 Great Portland Street London W1W 5PF United Kingdom but a trading address of 26-28 Mount Row London W1K 3SQ. Ganley International Limited has a few directors, but one in particular ‘CCS Directors Ltd’ have been pretty busy. They have had 0ver 6000 previous directorships. You’d expect they would leave soon trace with all that work right?  Google them and you’ll see they dont leave anything.

So its unclear whether Ganley is Irish for cultural reasons and British for cashmoney reasons or what the score actually is. You could ask him on Twitter though. Because that’s actually the point of legal actions like this and useful responses to them. Its about shutting people up. Kevin Barrington has, like a few other free lance journalists and researchers, been a consistent thorn in Ganleys side. Ganley’s actions against Barrington when seen in this context seem to stem more from frustration and anger. But things are different these days

Ultimately libel laws and their fans and profiteers don’t get the internet quite simply cos they are a different demographic. They don’t get crowd sourced intelligence, citizen journalism and its multi-directional critically-aware curiosity and it occasional absense of respect for respectability. They don’t get cultures of openness, transparency and sharing, and the interrelationship of these individual-collective values that frame many peoples understanding of democracy power and agency. And they sure a fuck don’t get the lulz. Libel laws have always been about controlling the medium itself rather than controlling what people can or cant say, but the more mainstream media spin this as some muzzling on Twitter and the internet, the more they look like me talking about dubstep at a party. Daft in public… Ganley himself is being lauded by some as the saviour of decent polite discourse, but to other he looks like Cartman screaming “respect my authority”.

Technology is not neutral, and questions of how people use technology, especially public communication technology, always has political and social dimensions. The shit didn’t fall down from the sky. Its not like Ganley doesn’t get this. He runs a company that runs US intelligence and military communications infrastructure. He’s more than vague about his role in and earnings from  the disastrous vampire capitalist privatization projects in the post Soviet Union that drove millions into poverty whilst setting up new oligarchies that crush genuine democractic movements to this day. Hes pretty quiet about his role in Iraq.

For many people thats enough to question whether you have a ‘good name’ to protect in the first place. Add to that the list of racists under his Libertas umbrella. Is Ganley the Willie Frazier of Irish European politics? Both like flags of conveniences,  both mix illusions of power-grandeur with lashings of victim-hood, neither are very open about their past, and both see and support that the final arbitrator of truth to the hard power of (para)military might.

Some might seek to advise Ganley to go a wee bit easier with the litigation around people’s legitimate concerns about him. He chooses to be an outspoken public figure, and to push a right wing agenda based upon inequality. But recently when some people have started shutting down political discussion and inquiry on the interwebs, lots of other people started to take note. When you are punting to own telecommunication infrastructure across Europe like Ganley is, lots of eyes are going to be watching. He should expect that.

This isn’t a landmark victory or anything other than mainstream media yet again not being able to make sense of whats going on around them when some rich/powerful people hand them a press release that mentions ‘social media’. As I write this I see that the Irish Times has another piece about it. Its seems Mr Tweed is distancing himself from Mr Ganley statement. Its all ‘I was only working on instruction from my client’ etc etc.  Colm Meegan continues the narrative however. “Earlier this week the apology received extensive coverage in the media as it is believed to be a first for an Irish tweet.” It was believed to be a first by the media who then gave it loads of coverage because they believed that and now are describing how they gave it coverage because they believed that. This is more than a tautology. It sketches out the confusion of the specific bound in the confusion of the systemic .

It is not a first. I’ve had people send me abusive tweets,  sometimes I gave out to them for it, they said sorry and we both deleted. Ive sent tweets i later apoligised for. I see this happen at least twice a month.   It happens lots.  Only the very odd, narcissistic, or those in need of political visibility would head for Paul Tweed.  Pro Life bandwagon hopping in the immediate future you say?


16 thoughts on “Declan Ganley’s €50: Social Media & the Virtual Reality of the Irish Political Class No 2


    Some posts of interest re Matthews above and as Northern you will love this Luibertas scheme to have work permits for crossing the line into the 6 or vis a versa

    Libertas want to introduce work permits across Europe valid for a maximum of two years. Irish also denied freedom to work North or South without visa


  2. “Because that’s actually the point of legal actions like this and useful responses to them. Its about shutting people up.”

    I think this has now been illustrated in the clearest possible way. I’d suggest soliciting donations and fighting this all the way. I’d certainly chip in.


  3. Excellent article Michael. Particularly about the shoddy reporting of “press releases as news”. And as for the litigants….the narcissists think they are taking over the asylum.


  4. I came this rather bizarre story on this link. I think the above article confirms my initial opinion of the person involved in this, libel law in Ireland and the poor standard of the press. Interesting that several judges in the UK have described the behaviour of demanding libel settlements without any consideration for the merits of the complaint as ‘attempted extortion’. Perhaps this is simply some silly childish spat between two people but it does make them both appear very foolish.


  5. Pingback: Declan Ganley has threatened to sue Mark Malone for this critical article, It should be considered as part of the recent ‘moral panic’ on social media which is a thinly veiled attempt to silence critique. Declan Ganley’s €50: Social Media

  6. A couple of things. I am no fan of Ganley but there are a couple of objectionable aspects to this article. FIrst of all the nationality thing. It is well known that Ganley was born in the UK to Irish parents. As such he is a British national and also entitled to Irish citizenship. No mystery here.

    Secondly, you are implying that there is something suspicious and shadowy about the fact that CCS Directors Ltd. is a co-director of one of Ganley’s companies. It’s obvious from your description that CCS Directors is a dealer in off-the-shelf companies. Hence the large number of directorships and lack of “google activity”. CCS has not been a director of the company in question – Ganley International Ltd. – since 1994.

    I know this is not the main thrust of your article but if you are going to dig around in company databases, you need to know what you are looking at. It doesn’t seem that you do.


  7. Interestingly my link to our blog piece lasted less than 24 hours on before being deleted with associated warnings.. Rivers still run deep in them parts.


  8. No, totally unconvincing. You don’t like Ganley or anyone else, for that matter ? Fine. You want to imply that he is or was actively involved in odious activities, not fine. You either have the proof or you don’t. If you have it, let’s see it. You don’t ? Shut up until you do.

    And don’t demean yourself with ridiculous nonsense such as the points about the nationality on companies office forms.

    ( The “you” above is not addressed specifically to Mark).


  9. I see Ganley’s lawyer has racked up quite a few ‘libel’ wins. This one is interesting – suing 50K a piece over a bunfight in a cake shop.

    Who? Paul Tweed, 57, media law senior partner at London, Belfast and Dublin firm Johnsons.

    Career high: ‘In 1987, I acted for two QCs accused of fighting over the last remaining chocolate eclair in a cake shop. The paper that printed the false story was ordered to pay them £50,000 each, which in 1987 was a very great deal of money.’


  10. What a truly sad state of affairs. Being sued for writing an article and expressing an opinion.

    I know a fair bit about libel law in the UK and how to deal with libel chancers and opportunists.I do not however have any confidence in the Irish legal system to put a stop to this type of nonsense.

    The case below may however put this into context.: It is a very well written judgement but needs reading very carefully to draw out all the helpful points. In short, it sums up pretty much all the potential defences to internet libel claims in UK law. The claimant was totally defeated in court.


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