Sunday 11 December 2016

Radio review: Politics is about much more than policies

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30

Olivia O'Leary
Olivia O'Leary

On Tuesday, RTE Radio One's Drivetime introduced the latest musings on Irish politics by one of its regular contributors with the underwhelming words: "Olivia O'Leary asks if there are better ways to do things."

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"What things?" bemused listeners might have been tempted to ask. Things like running the country, came the reply.

No doubt there are, but what might they be? O'Leary wasn't so precise about that, except to say that Irish politics should learn from the Ulster peace talks, which proved, apparently, that "respect for the other side works wonders".

"Maybe we're about to see it in Dail Eireann," O'Leary added, as a minority government supported by others on an issue-by-issue basis becomes more likely.

The failure of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to agree on the Grand Coalition that the pundits have been predicting for months has produced a slew of anodyne commentary, delivered as if from on high. It's full of platitudes but little detail as to how the new politics is meant to work in practice, and always suggesting that everything would be grand if only politicians would stop being silly and start working together, ignoring the real differences that exist between them.

Morning Ireland at least attempted to answer the question of what exactly separates the two Civil War parties, rightly concluding that it had more to do with culture than with manifestos. The Fianna Failer is more at home in the GAA club, was how Conor Lenihan put it; the Fine Gaeler in the golf club. One prefers a sports jacket, the other a pinstriped suit.

O'Leary touched on the same theme on Drivetime last month, while adding a few differences of her own, commenting, for example, that FF, "like all sinners", were "more fun" and were "more ambitious, took more risks", only to then step away, just as it was getting interesting, by dismissing these contrasts as mere remnants of an obsolete "family quarrel".

There's more to politics than policies, whatever Late Debate might believe.

For its part, The Anton Savage Show on Today FM continues to supply an eclectic mix of chat, gossip, light entertainment and human interest stories, together with more serious items. On Tuesday, Anton spoke to Raffaele Sollecito, the young man wrongly imprisoned, alongside Amanda Knox, for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. It was fascinating to hear from a young man often talked about but rarely heard in his own words.

On Wednesday, Anton's guest was the maker of a new documentary about Mayo conman Kevin McGeever, who received a suspended sentence last week for wasting garda time by faking his own abduction.

This story had it all - lies, money, fast cars, exotic locations. It was compelling radio, even better than that particularly deranged edition of Liveline in the week that managed to cram rows about smacking children, masturbation and homosexuality into one show. Mad, Ted.

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