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Against gender quotos? Well, make your pitch...

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Tom Brabazon

Tom Brabazon

Tom Brabazon

The problem with arguing against socially "progressive" initiatives is that often, there's really no argument.

It's easy enough, alright, to sneer about "the media" or "the liberal agenda", how such-and-such is being "shoved down our throats". It's easy to take the contrarian view on some abstract point of principle. But it's harder to actually make that case in favour of the status quo.

For example, the introduction of gender quotas in Irish elections. Personally, I agree with this - the game is rigged on men's side and always has been, so this is just evening out the playing pitch. I don't insist that everyone has to agree; but I do ask that they make a decent stab at a convincing argument against it. Which was something Tom Brabazon singularly failed to do on Today with Sean O'Rourke (Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 10am).

The Fianna Fáil Dublin councillor had written an annoyingly specious article on the matter - the golden line was his contention that ideal female candidates, amongst other attributes, would have children - and was on radio to fight his corner. It was a dismal performance, really.

His main argument was that if women are unduly preferred there would be fewer places in the Dáil for men - and that, in turn, is unfair. He was unconvincing. Indeed Brabazon's inept display proved, almost singlehandedly, the urgent necessity of widening the electoral pool. Surely this isn't the best we can do in terms of public representatives.

The Ray D'Arcy Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 3pm) carried a very interesting interview with business journalist Richard Curran, nosed on his TV documentary The Battle for Rural Ireland. Yes, it is annoying when RTÉ does this cross-programme and cross-media self-promotional stuff.

But this was well worth covering again. Curran grew up in Monaghan, spent decades working in Dublin and has now moved to Donegal, where his wife is from. His documentary - and this conversation - painted a fairly depressing picture of how the recession has ransacked rural Ireland.

Business closing, unemployment, reduced services, people leaving in their droves… you know the full list. Perhaps the worst bit was D'Arcy and Curran's observations about people buying holiday homes "down the country", thus pricing out the natives.

It's important to cover this stuff, because the media is fixated on Dublin, often acting as though the capital city is the country, to all intents and purposes. (Perhaps this is understandable, and we're no worse than any other country; the British media, for example, is obsessed with London.)

Rural Ireland may be in trouble - but it still exists, it's a real place, meriting attention.

Indo Review