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Pat Rabbitte: Social media is crucial for holding authority figures accountable

Pat Rabbitte said sites such as Facebook and Twitter are important for questioning the established order.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER PAT Rabbitte has said social media has a “crucial role” in ensuring that those in authority are held accountable.

The Minister told a conference organised by community radio station Near FM that  sites such as Twitter and Facebook are important for reporting on action and inaction, as well as questioning the established order of things.

Rabbitte said it was too early to predict what the expanding world of social media would mean for a small country like Ireland.

He also stressed that the government’s system for evaluating media mergers and acquisitions “is long due an overhaul”.

The Minister for Communications wished those in attendance “better luck” in expressing their opinions than he experienced when he voiced what he described as “timid criticisms of some practises in the media recently”.

Speaking on the performance of Irish media outlets, the Labour minister said that, “given the degree of economic trauma we’ve seen, one would expect the media to play a critical role in explaining the impact of this change.” However he would not be drawn on whether or not he believed the media has fulfilled this role and said it was best left to be debated in the group discussion following his speech.

Pat Rabbitte credited community media with playing a vital role in giving a voice to people whose views aren’t represented on commercial or public service broadcasts.

He cited campaigns for gender equality as an example of this, saying:

My generation in particular will acknowledge the role the media played in Ireland in enabling women to communicate their shared experience with each other and campaign for change.

Around 100 people protested against the controversial property tax outside the conference in Coolock.

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Alyson Henry

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