Tuesday 23 January 2018

Garret the Good and the Mighty Mac to the rescue!

Hurray! We have a new government. Someone break out the champagne and Skittles, fast.

Okay, I'll stop with the sarcasm -- although funnily enough, after such a protracted lead-up, the arrival of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition did feel rather muted. Maybe nothing could compare to the excitement of the election, maybe everyone's a bit worn-out from the whole thing.

But listening to the deluge of radio coverage this week, there was a distinctive sense of déjà vu. I don't know if it's the repetitive language used by political commentators and reporters, but it felt like we've been here before.

However, there were moments that rose above the one-note sameness of tone. I liked Pat Kenny's ramble down memory lane with Garret Fitzgerald on Radio 1 about the last time a Labour-FG coalition was formed, in the early eighties. That's just about my earliest memory of Irish politics, so there was a nice nostalgic buzz.

I also liked the final episode of GE11 with David McWilliams on Newstalk, which has been running throughout the election.

He is good as a broadcaster because he's energetic and direct, and gets right down to it; he doesn't stand on ceremony or seem to feel any pressing need to maintain that scrupulous air of objectivity, common to current affairs radio, which is morally commendable but, unfortunately, can make things a bit dull.

So, for instance, we had an enjoyably robust debate between barrister Colm Mac Eocaidh and former Labour organiser Pat Magner about whether or not this was a done deal before the vote.

Probably the strongest impression one took from the show, though, is that much of our fate is out of our hands: those dreaded acronyms IMF, EU and ECB loom up before us like sentinels guarding the unknown future.

This was reinforced with the Morning Ireland report that Commissioner Ollie Rehn had suggested kinder terms on the bailout might be a possibility. Good news, certainly, but another reminder we're at the whim of outside forces.

A quick mention, finally, to the wonderful Raidio na Gaeltachta music show An Taobh Tuathail, which is giving away its fourth compilation album. Download it at http://www.rte.ie/rnag/att4/ -- I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


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