The dangerous framing of a Putin Puppet

“Fuck off Kremlin Clare, you Putin puppet”, shouted a Dublin man leaving Lidl in Dublin as Clare Daly politely asked him for a number one vote in the upcoming EU elections. Just one of dozens of abusive comments made during the 2024 EU election campaign. Some called her a c*nt, others threateningly ordered canvassers to “throw your fucking flyers in the bin”.  The comments were almost always made by middle aged, middle class men. And they generally targeted female canvassers.

What made these men come to such a conclusion? That a left-wing, life-long socialist and anti-war activist had become a puppet for a Russian neo-liberal nationalist oligarch? The proposition is absurd, and demonstrably untrue. Nevertheless, the framing of Clare Daly in the EU elections by the media and political establishment is a masterclass in using innuendo as disinformation in order to influence an election.

The primary basis for the claim came from media reports that Daly and Wallace were two of 13 members of the EU Parliament to vote against a resolution to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Headline from Irish Examiner article by Elaine Loughlin, Deputy Political Editor: “Mick Wallace and Clare Daly reject EU resolution to condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine”

A screenshot of a news article

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Except they didn’t.

Daly did condemn the invasion, and was as strong as anyone in their condemnation. Daly said in her explanation:

“I unequivocally supported the sections of the resolution which condemn Russia’s war of aggression and call on the Russian Federation to immediately terminate all military activities in Ukraine, unconditionally withdraw its forces, and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. I express my undivided solidarity with the ordinary people of Ukraine and call for urgent diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire, for negotiations to end the conflict and the withdrawal of Russian military forces.

The decision by Russia to abandon diplomacy and invade Ukraine is contrary to international law. The sole responsibility for this is borne by President Vladimir Putin.”

Had the media wanted to, they could have used an alternative heading such as:

“Daly demands Russian withdrawal from Ukraine and respect territorial integrity”

This would have been accurate, far more accurate than the headlines used, but it didn’t fit the narrative.

With European Parliament resolutions, you have to vote on the entire proposal, and not single components like the simplistic statement presented. Journalists know that. 

The resolution contained the condemnation of the invasion, which Daly and Wallace wholeheartedly agreed with, but went much further. It called, as Daly and Wallace explained, to:

  • Accelerate provision of military equipment and weapons to Ukraine;
  • Strengthen NATO’s forward presence in the region;
  • Further increase defence spending;
  • Activate European common and joint defence efforts “in order to strengthen the European pillar within NATO”; and, opportunistically,  
  • Open the European energy market to fracked liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.

Daly and Wallace’s political group, the Left, sought to remove these elements from the resolution, but the majority in the European Parliament fought to keep them. So the question shouldn’t have been, why did Daly and Wallace vote against these provisions, it should have been, why did all the other representatives of Ireland, a supposedly neutral country, vote in favour of these provisions that would increase the militarisation of Europe, lead to thousands of unneccessary deaths and damage the environment during a climate crisis? Needless to say, that question has never been asked.

The strategy was repeated ad nauseum over the following two years.

A resolution is moved in the EU Parliament which contains many worthwhile provisions, while opportunistically including provisions which would lead to more weapons; more war; more deaths; and more funding for the military at the expense of peace; whilst also defunding climate action, and then frame those who oppose militarisation as Putin stooges or Russian spies. The enthusiasm with which some commentators engaged in this behaviour is a worry, but the lack of journalists to call this out is a deeper worry.

When POLITICO published an article on the eve of the elections citing “Russia’s best friends in the EU Parliament” which included Daly and Wallace, this was regurgitated by Irish Times journalist Naomi O’Leary, among others.

The article read: 

“With the EU election under way, POLITICO has looked at the data to find out which MEPs have been the Kremlin’s top allies in the European Parliament.”

Daly and Wallace were both included in the list. So, now, in this binary topsy-turvy post-truth world, if you condemn Russia, and call for peace and a negotiated settlement, you are one of the “Kremlin’s top allies”?

Notably, when the Pope made the same arguments, he was not branded a Putin sympathiser or a top “ally of the Kremlin”. But then, there was no need to brand him, he wasn’t running for election.

The article in POLITICO and the timing of the publication were a transparent attempt to influence EU elections by a news outlet with questionable credentials.

POLITICO is owned by a multi-billion German company named Axel Springer SE which, The Nation reported, received $7m funding from the CIA apparently “to influence the publisher to align its editorial content with American geopolitical interests.” 

Axel Springer requires its European employees to sign a pledge in support of the trans-Atlantic alliance and Israel. Its chief executive, Mathias Döpfner, said support for Israel is “a German duty.”

He also said this support, and a free-market economy – “are like a constitution, they apply to every employee of our company.” Employees who disagreed “should not work for Axel Springer, very clearly.”

Axel Springer itself is majority owned by KKR & Co. Inc., an American private equity firm which has been named as the worst offender for investing in dirty energy according to a climate risk scorecard. It also, coincidently, has investments in the Port Arthur Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in Texas where a report claimed this investment “exemplify environmental racism and are actively harming low-income, Black, brown, and Indigenous people.”

I don’t remember any articles in the Irish Times warning of foreign interference from a CIA supported, Zionist, climate destroying corporation?

It makes sense that a media outlet with connections to the CIA, Israel, climate destruction and racism would want to damage the election campaign of a left-wing socialist firebrand like Clare Daly. She and Wallace scored the highest of all Irish MEPs for their climate voting. She has arguably been the most vocal MEP throughout Europe for peace and against militarisation. She’s used her enormous social media platform to condemn Israel for their ongoing genocide. What’s disappointing is how Irish commentators allowed themselves be vehicles for these attacks.

This week Justine McCarthy penned a piece in the Irish Times criticising Clare Daly for not engaging with the media after she was not elected. When the returning officer announced Daly’s elimination, the media scrambled seeking a comment:

“Ye’d no interest in talking to me for five years, so I’ve no interest in talking to ye.”

McCarthy sensationalised it:

“What shattered the air was her dog whistle to haters of the so-called ‘mainstream media’. The salivating in the trenches of the dark web was almost audible… ‘At a time when more journalists than ever are being killed around the world for doing their job…”Seriously? Daly politely refusing to comment is a threat to the lives of journalists? Watch the clip and make up your own mind… (

Clare Daly is maligned and misrepresented for more than two years, faces allegations of being a Putin puppet, is abused on the streets regularly, received death threats, and then politely declines an interview and she is the “reckless” one? 

Justine might want to look closer to home at the implications of the irresponsible journalism emanating from the Irish Times if she wants to understand recklessness.

Earlier this year the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times in an apparent assassination attempt. The gunman, Juraj Cintula, in his explanation for his attack said what he mainly wants is for “military assistance to be given to Ukraine,” and “regards the current government as a Judas toward the European Union,” so he “decided to act.”

The misrepresentation of Daly and Wallace in the Irish media as Putin supporters incited many people. It was lapped up by political opponents who used it as innuendo against Daly and Wallace, most famously by Barry Andrews when he said Clare Daly should worry more about Crumlin than the Kremlin. This, in turn, is used by the very same media outlets to justify and amplify insinuations that Daly is a Putin stooge.

This was further illustrated earlier this year when Fianna Fail issued a statement saying “two of our own Irish MEPs, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, have consistently taken decisions that are straight from the Kremlin’s playbook.” 

The statement then insinuates that because Daly and a Latvian MEP, Tatjana Ždanoka, who is under investigation for spying for Russia, have been in the same room together, that they must have a relationship. No evidence was provided, other than, “They voted the same way as her on several European Parliament votes related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.” 

The far right parties of the EU (ECR) voted overwhelmingly with Fianna Fail on the very same votes, but that doesn’t mean Barry Andrews is a fascist. In fact, of the 13 who voted against the resolution in March 2022, 9 were leftists, and almost all the far-right and fascist MEPs voted with Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Greens.

Sadly, rather than scrutinise these allegations properly, our media simply regurgitated nonsense from the press office of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. It was taken to the extreme when, during the Ireland South RTE Prime Time debate, Miriam O’Callaghan had the audacity to ask Mick Wallace, “do you regret that you were perceived to support Russia”. A perception fertilised by the media, and then perfectly illustrated when Fine Gael’s John Mullins received free reign on the same debate to say “A vote for Mick Wallace is a vote for Russia”. The mediator didn’t feel it necessary to correct the record.

The failure of Daly to hold her seat was not down entirely to the smear campaign, but it was a factor. We should all be concerned about the state of our democracy, and our media. The Irish media has responsibilities beyond click-baiting the public in the interests of the global war machine and advertising revenue.

There’s a latin phrase, cui bono. Who benefits. The greatest beneficiaries of Daly and Wallace losing their seats are the military industrial complex, the genocidal regime in Israel, Ursula Von Der Leyen and the Irish political parties chomping at the bit to end Irish neutrality and align ourselves with NATO. 

There’s another latin phrase, cui malo. Who loses. The greatest losers are the thousands of innocent people dying and being injured every single day in Ukraine, Gaza and through other preventable wars. It’s sad that so many actively participated, knowingly or unknowingly, in a witch hunt against one of the world’s most prominent peace campaigner. Nevertheless, LA LUCHA CONTINUA!

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