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Gemma moves right

Gemma O’Doherty has become the poster girl for Irish populism

In 2018 award-winning journalist Gemma O’Doherty wrote several articles for Village magazine. She was easy to work with and produced good copy. Like many contributors she generously did not charge the magazine for her work. She brought a large social-media followership with her, writing pieces on human-interest stories – on Madeleine McCann; on Sophie Toscan du Plantier; on sex abuse in Donegal and in a Dublin rugby school; and she wrote about her experience before the Charleton Tribunal, with which she was not impressed. She had given evidence about how she was removed from her position as Chief Features Writer of the Irish Independent in 2014 after she door-stepped the former Garda Commissioner about the wiping of his own penalty points. Around that time sadly her husband Peter Carvosso, a well-respected editor, who also worked for the Irish Independent, had died. It must have been a very difficult time for her.

O’Doherty writes well. Some elements of the stories she submitted to Village were less definitively backed up than was ideal, though they were always scupulously researched and coherent. Her story on rugby trainer John McClean was excellent and was helpful in bringing about long-stalled charges against him for abusing boys in Terenure College. She never ventilated any sort of political view in these articles.

When she ran for the Presidency on an anti-corruption ticket expressing her lack of faith in Irish media, Village felt the media should give her a hearing. There were mutterings that she was quietly anti-abortion, anti-vaccination but she denied this, particularly in interviews with online news service, which supported her Presidency bid.

She did not do well in the Presidency election – she only received one of the four requisite nominations – and was predictably snookered by the media she loathes for stating, without evidence, that journalist Veronica Guerin had been killed by “the State”. She never got a chance to air her politics or her platform. That was a pity, from all perspectives.

It was after that election that her politics appears to have turned. Perhaps this was a reaction to the success of the nastiness of Peter Casey’s campaign which placed him second. She first toured the country with other anti-corruption activists giving talks, and more recently has established an ambitious new platform called Anti-Corruption Ireland with 2000 online members – a “political movement” which intends to field candidates at local, national and European elections.

Village is driven by politics not personalities. It promotes equality and sustainability.

Gemma O’Doherty derides the equality agenda, and believes climate action has gone too far and that wind farms are an over-subsidised scam.

It is not clear how she funds herself: and she is peripatetic. Nor is it clear who she is accountable to or what she regards as her ethical parameters. She provocatively claimed that anti-racism protesters at a rally in Rooskey, Co Roscommon after an asylum centre was burnt, were not locals. A piece about this in Broadsheet was removed after legal correspondence. In early April she was cut off mid-stream by Sligo’s Ocean FM when she mentioned Mary Boyle. On the same trip to Sligo, she says Twitter shadowbanned the notice of the Anti-Corruption Ireland meeting. In mid-March a hotel in Cork cancelled a meeting she planned because she was inflaming the situation after the Christ church murders – and she has run into trouble with Youtube which closed down her channel because of her incendiary videos. She organised a small sit-in at Google, Youtube’s parent, in Dublin in protest.

She loathes George Soros, an agent of global liberalism who “uses NGOs to undermine democracy”. Presumably she prefers direct democracy and its voguish manifestation, populism. She can’t get enough of the gilets jaunes. She lists an array of media and political villains: the Irish Times, RTÉ, INM, Communicorp, Virgin Media, FG, FF, Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party and she has a particular antipathy to the Social Democrats, People before Profit and the Anti-Austerity Alliance who, with others, she sees as ‘Cultural Marxists’. She has promoted protests outside the houses of political leaders including Bruton and Varadkar.

As of now O’Doherty is promoting a God and Country agenda, though her journalism on McClean suggests she is no clericalist. She believes Ireland will become Muslim majority and questions the National Planning Framework which posits radical population targets that depend on wholesale immigration as part of an insidious globalist agenda. She dislikes secularism, highlights alleged high rape rates in Scandinavian countries linked to Muslim immigration and draws attention to violence perpetrated by Muslims in Western countries. She has no qualms retweeting people who believe Africans are inferior to Caucasians. She believes Irish people should “reclaim their Irishness”, saying “if that’s racist, great, bring it on!”.

She considers the appalling Christchurch massacre was a “false flag’ operation designed to disguise the actual source of responsibility.

She is in bed with conservative commentator John Waters who appears regularly on her long but rollocking podcasts. This relationship encapsulates her political trajectory. At one time she was lionised in a liberal website with a following that varies from libertarian to leftist but which does not embrace conservatism, the Church or John Waters who it has pilloried, characteristically and in particular for his stance on PantiBliss whose denigration of Waters as homophobic grounded a defamation payout. Now Waters and she make ideological twins and he appears regularly on her Youtube channel. In Irish terms this amounts to a 180-degree rotation. She also has an intense affiliation with someone called Amazing Polly, a Canadian version of herself who often appears on her videos, and she often retweets contrarian Katie Hopkins.

Her approach is somewhat tribal and, though she is an attractive and fluid speaker, she also makes for an impressively lethal antagonist. Legal Blogger Gavin Sheridan recently ungallantly tweeted (a lot of this stuff happens in the ethereal world of social media): “If you’re still following Gemma O’Doherty after her descent into the abyss of far-right conspiracy nonsense, false narratives, and absolute fucking bullshit, then you’re a) an idiot and b) should unfollow me”. The hounds of hell were unleashed on Sheridan centring on his work for Rupert Murdoch- funded Storyful. She has opened up some dead-end discussions. She seems to have decided that unicorns are insidious symbols of transsexualism and that CO2 is not pollution, for example.

The only parts of O’Doherty’s agenda that continue to meld with Village’s are her anti-corruption and media-sceptical stances, and perhaps her acute scepticism about the Garda. Her opposition to globalism tends to be tribal. Village’s anti-globalist concerns would be cultural and socio-economic.

Some people have speculated that Gemma O’Doherty is understandably still suffering after her bereavement, job loss and the obloquy of her Presidential campaign. Whatever the reason, she has transformed herself into perhaps the most controversial force in Irish journalism. She has made many enemies, both powerful and powerless, and alienated the media. It is unlikely this will end well.

April 2019