Entertainment Radio

Saturday 19 January 2019

Radio: Blues banners on bridge make for troubled waters

Banners placed on the Ha'penny Bridge celebrating Dublin GAA
Banners placed on the Ha'penny Bridge celebrating Dublin GAA
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

War in Syria, chemical attacks, referendums, tribunals, Brexit, rape, Islamist terrorism… it's a depressing business sometimes, listening to the radio. It's all so awful and there's so little that any of us can, in reality, do about it.

Small wonder, then, that sometimes it's easier to bury your head in the sand, ignore the many problems in this world… and instead tune in to a row about a banner on a bridge.

As explained by Jonathan Healy on The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am), Dublin City Council are considering taking down the "Up the Dubs" banners, which they put on the Ha'penny Bridge for a few weeks before and after the county team plays a big football match. (In practice, seeing as Dublin have dominated the decade, this means early summer to late September.)

Jonathan admitted that he's "never even noticed" the offending banners, despite crossing the bridge frequently, but someone is certainly offended: Dublin Civic Trust have complained to DCC. These banners, they say, are "completely inappropriate on an iconic protected structure" and erecting them defaces the bridge. ("Defaced?" Jonathan asked in surprise.)

Green Party TD Eamon Ryan isn't a fan either, although, as always, he was quite reasonable on Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am). It's "great that Dublin keep winning," he said, but this doesn't need to be celebrated by covering up "one of the iconic pieces of architecture in Dublin".

Ryan added: "It's not very stylish… the bridge brightens up the city on its own, it doesn't need something on top of it… I just don't think it looks good. The bridge is beautiful in its own right."

Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha disagreed, telling Brian Dobson he "fully supports this practise" which "brightens up the city and celebrates the great achievements by the men and women's football teams." He also made the quite important point that DCC has "other priorities to focus on besides this", adding that the banners were "positive" and "welcomed by most visitors".

So should they stay or should they go? Jonathan Healy pointed out how the county colours are forever flying in places like Kilkenny, so why shouldn't the Dubs raise their flag too? Quite right.

Songs in the Key of Life (Today FM, Sun 9pm) was a real treat for me - and, I think, host Nadine O'Regan - as she chatted to Brett Anderson of the mighty British band Suede.

It's been - shockingly for those of us who remember it clearly - 25 years since their self-titled début album. Brett has also just brought out a brilliant memoir about his youth and the formative years of Suede.

They were, Nadine said, "a huge band for me" back in the 1990s, "the first band I ever got to see live". On the line from a studio in Manchester, Anderson was as charming, intelligent, funny and interesting in conversation as always. Oh, the man is basically a god. Listen back to this if you were/are a fan (and you should be).

I did, in the end, drag myself back to "heavy" issues, via The History Show (Radio 1, Sun 6pm). Myles Dungan hosted a fascinating discussion, under the title 'Russia and Diplomacy', which examined whether we might be entering a new era of Cold War.

Professor Judith Devlin - UCD School of History and former Moscow-based diplomat - and Geoffrey Roberts - Emeritus Professor at UCC and historian of the Soviet Union - were his guests and our guides.

They were informed, informative, wise and compelling. A pleasure to listen to… albeit a somewhat scary one.

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