Sunday 25 February 2018

Radio - Worlds apart: a vicious loser and footie fun

Washington Correspondent for RTE Catríona Perry
Washington Correspondent for RTE Catríona Perry
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

It really is a terrible irony that the Orlando massacre happened just as Euro 2016 was kicking into life. The latter is (mostly) a celebration of community and positivity and shared values across many different nations and peoples; the former was a vicious loser committing a heinous criminal act for absolutely no reason. Poles apart.

When Omar Mateen killed 50 people in the gay nightclub Pulse, it was the worst mass shooting in US history. On Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am) throughout the week, RTÉ's excellent US correspondent Caitriona Perry gave characteristically thorough and informative reports on what actually happened that night, and the aftermath, including a vigil in honour of the victims. Shockingly, she reported, the guy had been investigated by the FBI - twice.

The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) played a sound clip which had been released on social media and was even more shocking: thumping club music seguing into the brutal rat-a-tat-tat of machine-gun fire. Fun and happiness in hideous transformation to a world of death and insanity.

On one level, you gather from coverage, the situation is simple: a very bad person did a very bad thing. On another level, of course, it's more complicated. The Mateen massacre involves, as well as pure badness and madness, Islam, homophobia, gun control, security issues and many more strands.

Still, at the end of it all, I think Matt Cooper's regular contributor Cal Thomas - who I don't always agree with - hit the nail on the head. He said: "Anyone who believes that they are on a mission from Allah - to destroy homosexuals or Jews or Christians or infidels or Americans or Irish people or anybody who doesn't agree with them - is not going to be deterred by any gun law. They will find a way to wreak mass destruction."

Thankfully, the Euros were also on heavy rotation across the airwaves. I can understand why these times are close to unbearable for people who don't follow sport - to be honest, I'm pretty indifferent to the fortunes of Ireland's soccer team myself - but my God, it's a timely and necessary alternative to the weight of religious fascism.

The Marian Finucane Show (Radio 1, Sat-Sun 11am) did a nice piece, interviewing Irish fans en route to France, or about to head off (one Dublin group, rather amusingly, were tearing ass back to the city to pick up one member's forgotten passport). It's a bit of a tradition too, I think, for this programme around these sort of events.

All of that "the whole country is gripped by this" stuff can get fairly wearying, but you don't want to be churlish about it either. So, you know - go Ireland.

Elsewhere, the Off the Ball guys (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 7pm) were almost in raptures over Wes Hoolahan's goal against Sweden: a "beautiful" moment, according to host Joe Molloy.

On a much sillier note, Dermot and Dave (Today FM, Mon-Fri 12 noon) had a very amusing account of an Irish fan who'd lost all his friends, but somehow managed to have all their money in his pocket, and the Swedish fan who seemed to think most Irish people were leprechauns on the hunt for gold. (Interesting fact: we really are, but don't tell him.)

And somewhere in the middle of all this…the UK's Brexit vote, which takes place in a few days. Today with Sean O'Rourke (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 10am) chaired a discussion between Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of the pro-Leave Sun newspaper, and spindoctor legend Alastair Campbell.

Good stuff, although I still don't know how I'd vote - or how the British public will.

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