Entertainment Radio

Friday 14 December 2018

Radio: I spy with my little eye... the Russian bear hitting back

Matt Cooper
Matt Cooper
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Well, that wasn't too bad, was it? The Beast from the East and Storm Emma came and went, and most of us are alright after it. Indeed, the nation was cheered significantly by the generosity, stout-heartedness and esprit de corps on display around Ireland.

Sadly, not everyone responded so commendably, with several crimes reported. Most notorious was the attack on Lidl in the ironically named Fortunestown in West Dublin.

Matt Cooper on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) spoke to Sunday World reporter Nicola Tallant about this depressing exemplar of bone-headed thuggery. He reckoned there were "a lot more than nine people involved" (the number so far charged).

She agreed, saying gardaí are now trawling through online and CCTV footage in "one of those very lengthy and involved investigations that will cost a lot of money". Pointing out that these yahoos also attacked first responders to the scene, Nicola added that the reaction on social media has been "horror" - including from people living in the area.

Worse was the case of Ethan Murray, a 10-year-old with autism who attends St Ultan's special needs school in Navan. His mother Miriam explained to Matt how the school has a lot of very expensive, specialised equipment, individually tailored to each child's needs.

It took a year for them to get a tailored computer for Ethan - now it's gone, stolen along with several other items by morons who broke into the school during the storm. A disheartened Miriam has "no idea" what's going to happen now.

Another top topic of the week arose as Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Julia lay in critical condition, after being poisoned at their home in Salisbury?

Skripal was charged with spying for the UK by Russian authorities in 2010, and eventually allowed to leave for England. Now, it appears, the Great Bear has had its vengeance.

The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am) got the expert view from Duncan Bullivant, CEO of Henderson International Security Consultancy, of what Pat called "the murky world" of espionage.

Is it "almost inevitable", he asked, that Russia was behind this assassination attempt? Bullivant reckoned it was "unlikely" Vladimir Putin gave the order explicitly, and there probably isn't "a direct link" back to him.

But he "would have made it clear that this individual was on a list of people to be dealt with". Russia, Bullivant added, is full of competing intelligence agencies, all trying to curry favour with Putin and prove their loyalty.

And Skripal's alleged crimes wouldn't have been allowed to stand. "The idea that Russian security services would sit back and allow someone to have a comfortable retirement, in the UK or anywhere else, is just not on the cards," Bullivant said.

Could this all lead to sanctions? Yes, if British police can prove Russian state involvement. But, Duncan added ominously, he doesn't imagine Russia will care - even if England boycotts this summer's World Cup.

Arena (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7pm) covered what sounds like a very funny spoof from The Onion, the satirical website. A Very Fatal Murder skewers those insanely popular true-crime podcasts such as S-Town and Serial.

We meet thrusting investigative journalist David Pascall - played to perfection by David Sidorov, complete with that weaselly voice you get on a lot of "worthy" American public radio - who seeks out "the most interesting, violent, culturally relevant murder cases in America".

Contributor Mary McGill said that, while a fan of Serial et al, "these stories are all about crafting entertainment out of tragedy". This parody was "cringingly awful - and hilarious".

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