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Ben Dunne adds value to Byrne show

RTé has seemingly abandoned its pledge to make programmes of substance, which means that Gay Byrne's The Meaning of Life is currently the only series from our national broadcaster that offers any prospect of invigorating viewing.

Last week's extended interview with actor Martin Sheen was absorbing, while this week's chat with businessman Ben Dunne was never less than intriguing. It left large questions unanswered, especially about Dunne and his political donations, but then again it wasn't pretending to be Prime Time, and it provided instead pithy observations from an interviewee who's always good value in such encounters.

The aphorisms were especially good. While his father was "a man who respected a pound note", his own view was that "money is like manure -- it's no good unless you spread it around". However, when it came to his dealings with Haughey and other political graspers: "I was a complete eejit to give all that money away."

"A good Christian but a bad Catholic," he'd say to God at the gates of Heaven, "I've been dying to meet you." That had a rehearsed ring to it, but I laughed all the same.

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