As far as we’re concerned here at FPP, the only real story here is in the source and wording of the report as opposed to the information it is presenting.

The Irish Left is a many-headed monster but the Social Democrats certainly appear to be presenting something close to a “mainstream” face on their organisation, offering a place of refuge for disillusioned Labour voters in particular.

Running on a platform that claims to “Support a healthy, inclusive and progressive society, ensure a strong, stable and vibrant economy & make politics and government more transparent” the 2015 election was a success for them and they now have 3 TDs in Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shorthall as well as a host of councillors.

All of which makes it interesting to see how the Irish Independent, owned by Denis O’Brien’s* Independent News & Media, is reporting this “story” involving James Heffernan, who unsuccessfully ran on behalf of the SocDems for the Senate elections.

Below you see the article in full by Philip Ryan

FORMER Senator James Heffernan was arrested again last weekend and charged with a public order offence.

This incident comes weeks after Mr Heffernan was arrested three times over the course of a weekend while attending a music festival in Cork.

He was arrested in the early hours of last Saturday morning by gardai in Galway City following an incident outside a popular music venue.

The Limerick politician, who ran for the Social Democrats in the recent General Election, was charged at a special sitting of the Galway District Court on same day.

He is due to appear before the court on December 19th.

Mr Heffernan is understood to have been with his band in the Roisin Dubh venue before the incident which resulted in his arrested.

It is unclear what led to his arrest but sources say onlookers videoed the incident.

Sources close to the former Senator said he was examined by a doctor following his release due to injuries he sustained from the incident.

A Garda spokesman said a 36-year-old male was arrested at 2am on Dominic Street in Galway City Centre on Saturday morning.

The spokesman said the male was brought to Mill Street Garda Station and charged on the same day.

In the last week of September, Mr Heffernan was arrested three times in Mitchelstown, Co Cork over the course of a 36 hours period while attending a music festival.

He was arrested at the Indiependence Festival after gardai became concerned about what has been described as his erratic behaviour. He was arrested and detained over night before being released without charge.

He was arrested on the day of his release on suspicion of drink driving and again detained by gardai. He was later released and arrested on third occasion for public order offences.

In May, before the election, he was arrested in Templebar in Dublin City Centre after he mistakenly entered a crime scene.

Here at FPP we feel the above piece is less about “proper journalism” and more about associating words and terms like “arrested”, “public order offences”, “suspicion of drink driving”, “erratic behaviour” with the words “Social Democrats”.

When you weed out all the references to times Heffernan was arrested without charge, you discover that there is only one actual charge pending, namely a “public order offence”.  So why not wait until December 19 when all of the facts can be put into the public domain?

And instead of citing “sources close to” him, why not ASK him?  Or at least give him the opportunity and tell us if he declines?

We also found their choice of photo interesting.  Let’s just say it’s a far cry from the one he has on his Oireachtas page.

If you wanted to take it further, going by the information presented above, there’s even a case to be made for investigations into targeted police harassment.

Just to be clear…we have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever in relation to this case, nor are we putting forward any actual opinion as to his innocence rather than the standard democratic assumption of same.

*= Of course O’Brien and the SocDem’s Catherine Murphy have history in the area of putting allegations into the public domain – he doesn’t seem to like it when it’s done to himself

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