Wednesday 28 June 2017

Miriam crosses fine line in greatest race

How can the RTE presenter be seen as impartial and also champion John Hume? asks Eilis O'Hanlon

Finding someone who doesn't like Miriam O'Callag-han is as rare as bumping into someone who's enjoying the recession, so having her argue your case on national television must be a bit like getting a lift on a motorbike during the Dublin marathon. John Hume surely started clearing a place on the mantelpiece for the trophy the moment he heard the Prime Time anchorwoman, chat show host and mother of eight would be fronting the pitch on his behalf in the Ireland's Greatest TV show, currently on RTE each Monday.

Poor old Michael Collins only has former Attorney General Michael McDowell batting for him. Respected and admired the one-time Progressive Democrat leader might well be in some quarters, but he has more than his fair share of detractors too. As for Mary Robinson, she has to make do with David McWilliams, a man with a brain the size of the moon who has the unfortunate disadvantage, popularity-wise, of, well, having a brain the size of the moon. No one likes a smart alec, especially not when seeing him on screen just makes the rest of us suckers feel even more stupid for not listening to the man with the bouffant a few years ago when he told us the economy was going to go pear-shaped.

Miriam, by contrast, is universally adored. Even the press release which RTE issued to accompany the series described her as "one of Ireland's most popular and recognisable personalities".

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