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Saturday, March 03, 2007 

Freedom "Institute" - gone, but not forgotten

The latest edition (February 23rd) of The Phoenix brings an obituary to our notice:
"IT IS with much sadness that Goldhawk reports the disbandment of the Freedom Institute, the right-wing, sorry, liberal think-tank that brought much amusement to Dublin media circles around 2003/04. The Institute has now liquidated itself but its members still push their world view in academia and in the media."
Needless to say, the untimely demise of a fellow think-tank has been received with glumness here at the Dublin Institute of Culture and Knowledge. After all, who could not shed a tear at the demise of an intrepid group of students young capitalist warriors who could claim the following as their mission statement:

About The Freedom Institute
Founded in 2003, The Freedom Institute is Ireland's Centre for Social, Economic and Political Studies. Our approach is simple - while others argue about causes, we seek solutions from the ideas and principles developed by great thinkers - Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their contemporaries.
The Freedom Institute will never shy away from expressing its view on any issue. Our beliefs are simple - pro-freedom, pro-enterprise, less government and strengthened security.
An Ireland that embraces FI beliefs would be a place where resources are diverted to fighting not just crime, but also the causes of crime. Our view is to increase choice and competition in every sphere - particularly in the economy, healthcare and education. People should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential in this country - not emigrate to pursue their dreams. Government should retreat to its core areas, and not interfere in areas where the private sector is more than capable of providing. Taxes should be reduced, with the burden of tax (as measured as a share of GDP) still unacceptably high, despite the progress made in recent years.
Our proposed policies will make Ireland a better place to live.
The Freedom Institute has a range of staff dedicated to producing our policies. We will fight for a better Ireland on a range of levels - through public meetings, lobbying and producing our expert reports.
In conjunction with many other think tanks throughout the world, we will not shy from our responsibility to creat a safer, stronger, freer and more prosperous Ireland.

Begat (so legend tells us) in 2003 in the back of a bus between four McDowell Youth Young PD members, the young Freedom Institute was off to a promising start when it received a donation from noted US lobbyist laundromat Tech Central Station in 2004 to fund a survey friendly to deregulation of medicine advertisement, an issue obviously close to the heart of TCS's Big Pharma donors. Latter years saw an influx of Young Blueshirts Fine Gaelers, plus the irrepressible ex-Ogra Fianna Fail (see Phoenix issues passim) John McGuirk.
"The Institute may have gone away, you know, but Richard Waghorne, the Institute’s director, is now writing full-time for the Irish Daily Mail. A recent article listed Pat Rabbitte as the most dangerous man in Ireland while author and lecturer Rory Miller is fighting the good fight elsewhere in the media."
Our analysis of Dickie's Mail career gets an airing in a recent thread-spat here with another veteran Freedom Instituteer (and professional global warming sceptic), one Peter Nolan, ex(?) of the lobbyist front The Stockholm Network. Suffice it to say that the Rabbitte article referred to above seems the tip of the iceberg for entertainment value (see the recent Waghorne piece blaming marriage breakdown on gay sex), though we of course can go only on what we read while nosing through the newsagents' shelves of a Saturday.
"Waghorne told Goldhawk that it was simply a matter of the band pursuing solo projects but conceded that the “creative energy” the group had in 2003 – when there was still a debate over the merits of George W Bush’s Iraqi plans – was gone by late 2006."
"Creative energy", indeed (how's the Bush Legacy going, anyone know?). Sad news that graduating college and getting jobs going on to 'solo projects' has led to this, though we're glad to hear that it wasn't due to no more money turning up after the TCS cash was expended (for so little apparent returns) by the goys.
"Eamon Delaney, editor of Magill magazine, was glad to provide it with a regular and wide platform initially, and Waghorne and John Lalor became constant contributors. Delaney, however, is eager to distance himself now from the Institute, which was eventually indulging in namecalling, cheap shots and, worst of all, predictability."
We're astonished. And more than a little confused. Is this actually the same neo-Magill editor who passed the following recent (February 2007) Waghorne column for publication?:

"More Ideas Please
Irish political culture would be enriched by more think tanks, say Richard Waghorne

One of the high profile London think tanks was in Dublin before Christmas, talking to our capital's decision makers about the possibility of opening an Irish branch. To say that the reception they received was chilly would be something of an understatement. Oppsition to the idea was as strong from business as from the civil service [...] Why are we still so averse to independent policy groups when other countries have come to regard them as an indispensable part of politics?
It is a sign of how backward we remain about this that, even though we have much ground to cover to catch up, new arrivals tend to be greeted not like liberal bromides but with overtly hostile suspicion [...]"

And so it goes on, ad nauseum (and without a reference to Dickie's personal connection to this topic anywhere in the piece, we might add).

Back to the Phoenix:
"While Waghorne said the group was never as right-wing as it was portrayed, he admitted that “message management” was an issue. Indeed it was, although when you publish articles praising the merits of rendition flights, the folly of concern for global warming or referring to the minimum wage as “criminalising” work, the message obviously needed more than simple management."
Heh, indeedy. The Phoenix scribe misses out on other Freedom Institute classics such as on the de Menezes shooting, their love-bombing of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the repeated pimping of the McCarthyite David Horowitz and the Smoking Ban ("The Vampire At The Door", according to 'John Lalor Health Spokesperson'). Unsurprisingly enough, the Freedom Institute website was made inaccesible to the public several months back, at presumably the same time that it informally wound up; a check just now through the backdoor route we uncovered then reveals that the entire content has recently been scrubbed off their server.

We're hereby dedicating next week to recapping on some of the Freedom Institute's greatest hits, along with - if we've time - a "where are they now?" series. Stay tuned.

Postscript: a final note (pun unintended) on Sicilian Notes, which was recently promoted by Mulley as "one[...] to watch in 2007" (being an utter cunt[1][2][3][4], appears not to be a disqualifier for this distinction). Dickie has, it appears, turned his online scribblings into a gated community (what could he be afraid of, that people might read there? *).

One to watch, indeed.

* We've no idea (ok, maybe a few). We do, however, happen to possess extensive archives of the riveting opinions expressed by Dickie on his blog in the past (as well as those of the Freedom Institute). Requests to the usual email address.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)



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