Tuesday 27 September 2016

Silly season is starting early this year

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

MARIAN FINUCANE: RTE star had a bee in her bonnet
MARIAN FINUCANE: RTE star had a bee in her bonnet

Marian Finucane seemed weirdly fixated last Sunday on the €30m (£21m) reportedly spent by "the Brits" on their doomed 2018 World Cup bid.

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"Who got that €30m?" she demanded indignantly. "What were they spending all those millions on?"

A panellist tried to explain. "In terms of pitching for a tournament, what you're spending it on, as I understand, is…"

"Bribes," Marian interjected.

"No, no," he replied. "You may be, but you spend it on flying people in; showing them the facilities; showing them your country is capable of doing this; having 'flash, bang, wallop' presentations."

What strange bee had buzzed its way into Marian's bonnet? Does she know something other reporters don't about where this money went? If so, please share, because "bribes" is quite a word to toss around without evidence the English were up to no good.

The UK deserves credit for one thing, at least. Economist David McWilliams, another guest on Marian, lived there for a time and noted that the British media doesn't indulge in the same "jamboree" over A-levels as the Irish media does with the Leaving Cert. (There was more of it last Monday, as a man called Liveline to ask if there was an "agenda" behind the toughness of this year's Ordinary Level maths paper.)

McWilliams's contention was that this obsession stems from placing too much emphasis on "academic" over "creative" intelligence, and that more lateral thinking might have helped save the Irish economy from the groupthink which brought it down.

He's probably right. But to suggest that the Leaving Cert was to blame because it created an elite who then made a mess of the economy was a bit of a stretch. German banks lost billions too - it's just that they were better at offloading those debts on to others, such as the Irish, and that surely has more to do with power rather than education.

Of course, it could just be that radio presenters are excited by the Leaving because it's a pleasant reminder each year that the annual long summer break is almost upon them. Only teachers get more time off than RTE's pampered stars.

Ryan Tubridy may now have given the national broadcaster a perfect excuse to get the best of both worlds, though, by letting them send him off along the Wild Atlantic Way, then broadcasting the trip as part of his 2FM show.

Tubridy's trip west was fun, as far as it went, but it felt more like a scheme dreamed up by Failte Ireland rather than a broadcaster-led project. It's not as if Ryan was going to say anything negative.

That the silly season has begun in earnest was confirmed by an item on Today FM's Anton Savage Show about bringing pets on holiday, which included a digression on the theme: "Do all dogs like beer but not wine?"

The Ray D'Arcy Show even managed to turn the death of band leader James Last into a light-hearted item on Wednesday. Last may have been cheesy, but he had just died, so a few less giggles in the studio wouldn't have gone amiss.

Sunday Independent

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