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Darragh McManus on radio: Finally, we have a new government... well, almost


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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin pictured leaving Government buildings after talks concluded on a programme for government.  Picture; Gerry Mooney

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin pictured leaving Government buildings after talks concluded on a programme for government. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin pictured leaving Government buildings after talks concluded on a programme for government. Picture; Gerry Mooney

It's been so long now since we had the general election that many of us had kind of forgotten all about it. Three months of ongoing Covid-19 hysteria also helped push the formation of a new government out of people's minds.

But we have one now - well, almost.

"Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin," Brian Dobson announced on Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am) "is perhaps just weeks away from being elected the country's 15th Taoiseach."

Parliamentary party members and senators from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens "approved the joint programme for government published yesterday". Martin himself said: "It's a historic development, but I wouldn't agree that it represents a loss of identity [for Fianna Fáil]." Eamon Ryan leader of the Greens, added that "it's not about our party, but what we can do for the people".

Not everyone is taking such a magnanimous view. It's now over to party members to approve the whole thing, and as reporter Fiachra Ó Cionnaith heard, some are not in favour. "I'd have reservations about the Green Party," one said. Another declared: "I always said I wouldn't support us going in with Fine Gael, and I'm not going to change from that." With some 40,000 rank-and-file across the three parties about to decide this, Ó Cionnaith added: "Expect sparks to fly."

Time, as always, will tell. Meanwhile, The Last Word's (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) always enjoyable weekly music slot looked at the best music memoirs for audiophile bibliophiles. Dee Reddy and John Caddell picked books from Elton John, U2, Prince and Aerosmith, which all sounded great, as well as one by Lily Allen, which didn't.

The pair, and Matt Cooper, also examined the current story over a possible renaming of Penny Lane in Liverpool (you may know it from a song by a popular local combo known as The Beatles) because of alleged historical links to slavery. This sort of identity politics showboating is becoming a bit of a curse in culture. Radio recently covered several stories about TV shows and films being dropped from streaming services over non-PC content - particularly when it seems so obsessed with the past.

That said, something like equitable gender representation in modern-day politics is a whole other matter. On the most stringent point of principle, gender-based quotas could be seen a bad thing in a meritocracy. But it could also be pointed out that you need to level the playing field in the first place.

Senator Ivana Bacik told Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am): "I would hope that we will see a gender-balanced cabinet - I think it's long-overdue in Ireland. We've been appalling in our commitment to women in parliament." Whatever one's ideological standpoint, the stats back that up.

Indo Review