Friday 14 December 2018

Radio: Incredible dignity in the face of a terrible tragedy

Parents of missing Kildare woman Deirdre Jacob, Michael and Bernie make a public appeal for information on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance. Photo: Mark Condren
Parents of missing Kildare woman Deirdre Jacob, Michael and Bernie make a public appeal for information on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance. Photo: Mark Condren
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

The disappearance of Deirdre Jacob in 1998 is one of those terrible moments which have seared themselves into the national consciousness. Recently, the 20th anniversary of her disappearance, from near her home in Kildare, sparked fresh interest in the case - and seems to have sparked something more, as "significant new information" has now resulted in gardaí upgrading it from missing persons to a murder investigation.

Of course, the most important people here - apart from the poor young woman herself - are her family. Dad Michael told News at One (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 1pm) that "listening to (the news) this morning, it still came as a shock. Just hearing those sort of words - that Deirdre was murdered - it's a really heart-wrenching situation. We always held out hope (she was alive). But now, the way this investigation is going, it's a difficult time."

The family hopes "this media coverage will encourage someone, who might have that vital piece of information, to come forward. We're appealing to them. Now is the time to tell."

He, and wife Bernie, have been incredibly brave and dignified throughout all this. The whole country has been praying for a happy ending for them, though sadly, that does not appear possible now.

Is the Rose of Tralee out of touch with modern Ireland? This is the question posed by Andrea Gilligan on Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am). Is it still relevant?

Her guest, columnist Larissa Nolan, is not a big fan - and never has been. "I don't think it's outdated for 2018," she said, "it's always been outdated… I can't understand why someone would be interested in watching this, and why would these highly accomplished women be bothered entering." She also described the Rose, waspishly but rather amusingly, as being "like a 12-year-old's birthday party".

I like Nolan as a commentator, but must demur in this instance. The Rose is at worst harmless, at best a way for the Irish diaspora to reconnect with their spiritual homeland. It's hard to understand why anyone would get all worked up about it either way.

Futureproof (Newstalk, Sat 12 noon) was this week concerned with our imminent demise… possibly. Lauren Sallan, paleobiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke to Jonathan McCrea about "mass extinction events", defined as "an event that wipes out biodiversity at orders of magnitude far above what we call 'background extinction' - wiping out, say, 60pc of species, or species that wouldn't be expected to die off."

Life staggered on to land during the Cambrian Explosion over 500 million years ago. Since then there have been five mass extinctions. Is a sixth happening now? The jury remains out - but hold off on investing in those building society shares all the same.

Comedy show Sketch (Dublin City FM, Wed 3pm) has returned for a second series. Last year I described Michael Cullen's creation as "attempting something different - and doing a darn good job of it", with trippy, funny set-ups making for daft, clever, inventive, well-played and very entertaining comedy.

All of this continues to apply. I especially enjoyed the clipped-toned actress providing the "public voice" of Archbishop McQuaid and Christy Ring, and Marky Markievicz, the rapping rebel who ruins surprise attacks in 1916 by "busting out dope rhymes".

Finally, I'm neither a fan of John Boyne's books or "confessional" interviews. Yet his conversation with Brendan O'Connor (The Marian Finucane Show, Radio 1, Sat-Sun 11am), about the break-up of Boyne's marriage and an attempted suicide, was compelling radio - impossible to switch off and ultimately very moving.

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