Business as usual back in the capital
IF DEREK Mooney didn't exist, RTE would have to invent him. His unrelenting cheeriness each afternoon is the one thing stopping many listeners tipping over the edge after the unrelenting misery of Liveline.
Last week, however, Brenda O'Donoghue was in the Mooney chair and she was so ebullient that she almost made the eponymous host sound as grumpy as Ebenezer Scrooge by comparison. It would be dishonest to pretend that this wasn't a tad annoying, with particular reference to Tuesday's show when Brenda urged listeners to support En-ger-land in the forthcoming World Cup. Oh Lord, we're not going to have the debate again, are we?
The week, of course, was dominated mainly by the run-up to next Friday's local and European elections. Today With Sean O'Rourke was in its element, shoving aside all those arts and lifestyle items that the newsman finds so onerous (as do most of the listeners) in favour of wall-to-wall politics. It also allowed RTE to pretend that it gives a monkey's what's happening outside Dublin by despatching the team to different parts of the country – West Clare on Tuesday, Monaghan on Thursday, with Fran McNulty seemingly covering the rest of the country on his roving travels for News At One, including four whole minutes – count them and weep – devoted to female candidates in Cavan. There, that's the country done for another few years.
Why they bother is the real mystery. O'Rourke turned his attention to the Ireland South constituency on Tuesday, but Valerie Cox was given less than 10 minutes to profile seven independent candidates, "all very interesting" people, including Ballyhea protesters, Eurosceptics, Direct Democracy, the Catholic Democrats – then it was back to Sean for a half hour round-table debate with the main candidates, who all trotted out the respective party lines. It was like any other day in the Today studio back in the capital.
The estimable Audrey Carville on Wednesday's Late Debate did at least try to broaden the discussion from the familiar policy wonkery by debating "Ireland's changing relationship with Europe", though I wasn't convinced by one guest's assertion that the attitude towards the EU "is much more questioning now". There's disgruntlement at how Ireland has been treated, but, as one guest pointed out, there hasn't been the emergence of serious Eurosceptic parties in the way there has been across the water with UKIP, even though Ireland's proportional voting system ought to favour such a development. Left-wingers and other independents seem to be reaping the benefits instead.
Elsewhere, Ryan Tubridy was making the headlines thanks to his interview with a self-confessed former wife beater on 2FM, during which the Late Late Show host appeared at times to be struggling with his emotions, not to mention his distaste at what this man had done. That's understandable, but the man was actually trying to talk honestly and intelligently about the whole issue, and certainly made no excuses for his behaviour, and it would be a shame if such discussions were made more difficult in future by presenters' own kneejerk emotional responses to sensitive topics. Journalists sometimes have to interview subjects who have been less than saintly in life. It's part of the job.