Last night’s TV: Mike Murphy The Big Bertie Interview
Having once helped to ruin a country, last night Bertie Ahern invented one says Diarmuid Doyle
Discussing his Mahon Tribunal appearances with Mike Murphy on The Big Interview (RTE1), the former Taoiseach claimed had given the inquiry every document its lawyers asked for, including details of his bank accounts.
This was particularly important, Ahern argued, because people had been suggesting he had accounts in all sorts of places, including Lichtenstein and the “Dutch Achilles”. Nothing could be further from the truth, he said.
Residents of the former Dutch Antilles (it was dissolved like a dormant bank account in 2010) will no doubt wonder whether a prime minister who can’t get the name of their country right isn’t some kind of heel, but for the rest of us, it was just another glorious Bertieism to add to a long list which includes the upset apple tart and Lehman’s testicles, which he once claimed were taking over the world.
Lehman’s (though not its testicles) got another outing during The Big Interview, by far the best of the four Murphy has done in his new series.
He didn’t elicit any new information from Ahern – few people do any more – but he had done his research, had a full grasp of the facts and wasn’t afraid to let the former Taoiseach know when he was talking nonsense.
“I think you’re still compromised”, he said, of Ahern’s decision to accept money from all and sundry in different venues at different times. “What in God’s name possessed you to take the money?”
Ahern’s signing of blank cheques for Charlie Haughey to spend on whatever took his fancy was “unconscionable in this day and age”, said Murphy, who stopped just short of calling it stupid.
People were annoyed with Ahern, he told him, because he “didn’t prepare the country for stormy seas and you were able to sell the story abroad for personal gain”.
It would be great to report that Ahern held his hands up and admitted that he had got very many things very badly wrong, but that’s not really his style.
His defence is that everybody else was even more useless than he was (“between the lot of us we did not see the position coming about”) and in any case “when I left in 2007” (he actually left in 2008, but no matter), things in the country were basically fine.
If he has a regret it’s that he wasn’t around to help sort out the mess instead of sitting at home “twiddling me thumbs”.
The two men met in the National Convention Centre in Dublin (which is a bit like interviewing Ceaucescu in his palace), and Murphy emerged with his reputation intact.
He was more impressive handling this kind of interview than he had been with the likes of David McWilliams and Marian Finucane, where it all got very cosy very quickly. He was on top of his brief and was disinclined to let Ahern away with anything.
If he’s doing another series next year, he’d be better off avoiding his inner luvvie and going for interviewees who allow him to display this more substantial side.
One of the thousands of organisations affected by the downturn which “the lot of us” didn’t see coming is the Dublin Society for the Protection of Animals.
Fewer people can afford to make the kind of donations which have been its lifeblood over the years. The small government grant it receives is under threat and because pet owners are struggling to feed their families, never mind their dogs, cats and ponies, there is massive pressure on resources.
Animal Clinic (RTE1), a lovely little series about the DSPCA, couldn’t have come along at a better time, therefore.
Full of stories – both happy and sad – about the Society’s work, it will undoubtedly have had viewers reaching for their credit cards to make donations.
Some people will argue that all our resources should be directed at humans currently (the homeless, neglected children etc) , but when you see the distressed, hopeless and bewildered state in which some animals are left by their owners, it’s hard not to be moved.
Last night’s episode featured the attempted rescue of a dog, which had disappeared into a maze of underground warrens in the Phoenix Park while out for a walk with his owner.
The DSPCA officer who was called out was powerless to do anything. The dog could be heard barking – more and more faintly – somewhere underground, but she didn’t have the required equipment to locate it.
An inspired call to Dublin Fire Brigade produced a small army of firemen, who located the rough whereabouts of the dog and began digging.
The laughter, cheers and happiness of the fire crew, the DSPCA officer and the dog’s owner – not to mention the animal itself – when the bedraggled mongrel emerged into the light provided one of the week’s nicer tv moments.
Now where did I put that credit card?