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Reform Alliance is on the march – but not making waves yet

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Lucinda Creighton addresses the Reform Alliance conference in the RDS last week.  Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Lucinda Creighton addresses the Reform Alliance conference in the RDS last week. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Lucinda Creighton addresses the Reform Alliance conference in the RDS last week. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Am I the first person to make an "up the RA" joke about the Reform Alliance? I didn't hear it so far anyway, in coverage of last weekend's 'Monster Meeting'.

Then again, there wasn't nearly as much coverage as I'd have expected. Any reasonable person would consider this a good thing, of course, but it's still surprising.

Current affairs shows generally love these developments, breathlessly asking all those life-and-death questions. Will they run candidates in local elections?

Is Enda under pressure? Who else will cross the Dail floor? The answer, disappointingly, is usually: "We'll have to wait and see."

More disappointingly, pol corrs always leave out the most important question – in this case, "What's with the boring names of new Irish political groups?" Reform Alliance – dull. Progressive Democrats – someone wake me up.

Though at least neither is as annoyingly tautological as the United Left Alliance. Word to the wise, chaps: those two words mean the same thing.

The best coverage of the RA shindig, for me, came on Shane Coleman's 'Sunday Show' (Newstalk, 11am). Coleman, and guests Odran Flynn and Stephen O'Byrnes, used it as a start-point to discuss forming a new party.

The biggest hindrance to shaking up the political scene, so far as I can gather, is money. It costs a lot: leafleting, running an office and so on. It was interesting – though made me feel very old – to recall the exciting days of the mid-1980s when the PDs were born. I remember it well, for good or bad, they were a breath of fresh air in public life. The RA doesn't seem half as radical.

Good stuff from ever-reliable Coleman, although a black mark for failing to tackle that crucial "boring names" issue.

On a much more serious and important note, 'The History Show' (Radio 1, Sunday 6pm) honoured this week's Holocaust Memorial Day with a truly excellent set of features.

Novelist Audrey Magee's chilling account of her visit to Dachau; how Germany has endeavoured to make amends; Nazi art thefts, recently in the news; a survivor's moving testimony; and most shockingly, how Nazi war criminals found refuge in Ireland.

A dark stain on our collective past, and one we haven't done nearly enough to wash clean.

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DMCMANUS@INDEPENDENT.IE


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