Tuesday 12 December 2017

Radio: Too many voices spoil the debate on Donnelly deal

Stephen Donnelly TD (left) and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at a press conference last week to announce that Donnelly was joining the party
Stephen Donnelly TD (left) and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at a press conference last week to announce that Donnelly was joining the party

Stephen Donnelly's induction into the ranks of Fianna Fáil doesn't quite carry the same seismic impact as other political transfers, shifts, moves and defections of the past, but it's still a reasonably significant story.

Saturday with Claire Byrne (Radio 1, 1pm) unpicked some of the details, in the wake of Donnelly's own interviews on radio at the back-end of last week. Incidentally, Claire had too many people in studio, as is common on radio; why do programmes always have too many people in the damn studio?

None of them get enough time to speak, and the listener gets confused as to who exactly is speaking. (With the exception, here, of journalist Sinead O'Carroll: the one woman, besides the host, as against four fellas. And people think the media is on a right-on crusade for sexual equality!)

Anyway, back to Stephen Donnelly. New Fianna Fáil teammate John McGuinness said the Wicklow TD was "very good (and) will add something different… it shows Fianna Fáil is a broad church". O'Carroll reckoned the move is "a risk" and that something similar "didn't work out for Colm Keaveney".

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD for Waterford, David Cullinane, said: "No doubt this is a career move… the vast majority of people who voted for Stephen Donnelly didn't vote for him to join Fianna Fáil…

"He got into politics because of the unfairness of Fianna Fáil policies and jobs for the boys, but now it seems he's saying, 'Jobs for the boys are okay for me'."

In other words, it was pretty much what you'd expect. Those on his side were, eh, on his side; those against, weren't.

The columnists and social media have waded in, of course, mostly with very negative reaction to Donnelly's move. "This is why people have no respect or trust for Irish politics" et cetera et cetera.

Oddly enough, I'm not one of them - and I say this as someone who regards Fianna Fáil as less of a political party, than an expression of some horrendous malfunction in the Irish psyche. So normally, I would be of the "hang the beggar" opinion. Like, I definitely was when Keaveney joined Fianna Fáil. Donnelly, though… slightly different story.

Obviously the political commentators have their own view on the man, and that's fine. I'm mostly going on what I've heard from Donnelly on radio. And, in short: I like the guy.

I think he's capable and sincere and intelligent. I think he probably is doing this for the betterment of the nation, and not just personal/professional advancement. I believed him when he said that staying Independent would actually have been the easier route to take.

I'd have voted for Donnelly if he was in my constituency. I'd nearly - this is causing my hands to shake - still vote for him, even though he's now in Fianna Fáil.

Changing tack entirely, we had an amusing and mildly terrifying bit on Neil Delamere's Sunday Best (Today FM, Sun 11am), in which the host and barrister Paul Anthony McDermott discussed High Court action by six Hollywood movie studios, against nine Irish internet service providers. Basically, they want the ISPs to block access to illegal movie streaming sites.

This sounds like bad news for anyone who accesses films via legally dubious means. Fortunately for me, I've never heard of Primewire or movie4k, I am totally unaware of what streaming is, and I'm a fully-paid up member of Netflix and all-round law-abiding solid citizen.

In fact, now that I think about it, I don't even know what a movie is. And I bet you're the same.

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