Tuesday 25 October 2016

Another odd episode of the Adams family

Published 25/09/2016 | 02:30

Miriam O'Callaghan
Miriam O'Callaghan

Family is a funny thing. Listening to Sunday with Miriam (Radio 1, 10am), I was thinking how odd it is to have such strongly opposed views on siblings.

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Miriam had on four Ó Snodaigh brothers: Rossa, Rónán and Colm from trad band Kíla, and Aengus, Sinn Féin TD. And my feelings on them couldn't have been more divergent.

On one hand, Kíla have been a truly great band for almost 30 years, so I'd be a massive fan of those three Ó Snodaighs. On the other hand, I dislike Aengus. Not because he's Sinn Féin, necessarily: I haven't voted republican in a while, but I don't take a set against someone purely on party affiliation, either.

But he strikes me as a professional malcontent, always whinging about everything but rarely suggesting an actual alternative. Plus, his race-baiting "Goebbels would be proud" jibe at Alan Shatter was disgusting.

But as the show progressed, my thoughts shifted. As the group chatted about their lives as siblings (four of six), they sort of came closer together in my mind. No longer was it three guys from a band I love and a politician I can't stand - Kíla versus Sinn Féin.

It was just four brothers, more similar than different, with shared experiences, collective memories, all those in-jokes and unspoken truths, sentences half-finished because they don't need to be finished - the meaning isn't just clear, it's pre-known. The autonomic language that enables the concept of family, I suppose; and it's a universal thing, no matter who you are or where your politics lie.

Of course, for some, politics will inevitably overshadow everything. Gerry Adams is many things, good and bad, but his involvement in the Troubles will forever define him.

The Sinn Féin president was accused, on BBC programme Spotlight, of sanctioning the killing of informant Denis Donaldson in 2006. Adams denied any wrongdoing. The whole thing was capably dissected by the host and Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie on The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am).

Whatever the truth of it all, surely it's a deeply weird situation when a party leader faces these sort of allegations - and it doesn't automatically end their days in politics. Careers have been ruined for far less, but Sinn Féin carries on regardless, no questions asked. It seems more of a cult than a party these days (which, when you think about it, is like a family, too: a very, very odd one).

There's a convention in journalism that anytime an article asks a question in the headline, the answer is almost certainly no. I thought of that when George Hook introduced a piece on High Noon (Newstalk, Mon-Fri midday) by declaiming, in true Hook-ian fashion: "Are airline cabin crew now working like nightclub bouncers?"

So, as per standard procedure, the answer is no… although with a qualifier. Like, cabin crew won't stop you entering the plane because you're wearing sneakers and a cap, for one thing (thanks a lot, Gorbys in Cork one wet December night in 1996).

But as Hook argued, fairly persuasively, allowing passengers drink to any extent is asking for trouble. Worst-case scenario, there's an emergency during the flight and "some eejit (in the emergency row) has had 14 pints and you can't get out past them". And a tonne of other annoyances besides.

Letting people drink before or during a flight is something I've never understood. By all means, booze yourself into a stupor/coma/early grave all you like - it's your life. But please, not while trapped inside a giant cigar-tube, eight miles above the planet.

By the way, love that title. High Noon: funny, smart-arsed, fits the programme perfectly. Kudos to the wordsmith responsible.

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