Sunday 21 April 2019

Gene RTE and Dail share survives country's demise

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

TELEVISION Ireland may lie in ruins but the game that is politics rolls on, says Declan Lynch

Ah, they love it. To watch the RTE coverage of the new Dail was to understand the love that they have for the game of politics, and the depth of that love.

This is what turns them on. These people are clearly aroused as they debate endlessly with their brethren in other media, the great questions which are now to be decided. Will the Taoiseach's choice of Ministers be influenced by geographical considerations? Has there ever been a time in the history of the State when Defence hasn't been the dominant portfolio in a stand-alone ministry? And the big one: who will be the next Ceann Comhairle?

They love it so much, they could talk about that s**t all day. And I don't mean that in a figurative sense, I mean that they really could talk about it from the start of Morning Ireland all the way through the hours of daylight and long into the night, until they are completely exhausted. It gives them such a buzz.

This is their world, this is the big tent in which they all live and work, and last week it was never more obvious that they are institutionalised. When you see certain reporters and commentators at Leinster House for these gala occasions, you know that that is where they belong.

Ireland is destroyed. But the game goes on.

Ireland is destroyed, but you can still hear some commentator on RTE marvelling at all the work that deputies do when they're canvassing, how they jump over walls and ditches for the sake of a vote. And in that institutionalised culture, you will rarely hear your impartial reporter making the case that the deputies are doing it for themselves, that if any of us was offered a deal whereby we'd be paid about half-a-million over the next five years, plus expenses, plus power, plus privileges, plus, plus, plus, and for this we had to put on a shirt and a tie and a suit of clothes for three weeks and run about the place like a jackass, perhaps with an RTE reporter gazing at us with awe, we'd do it baby!

And oh how they love it, when Big Dobbo himself stands outside Leinster House on the big day, presenting the News.

Here the two great institutions of broadcasting and politics come together, physically, in the one place, and it is fiesta time. They say there is an RTE gene, and that same gene can be found in the body politic, most clearly to be observed at a time like this. Whatever their souls are made of, they are the same.

And by the way, I wasn't making up that line about the crucial question, "Has there ever been a time in the history of the State when Defence hasn't been the dominant portfolio in a stand-alone ministry?"

David Davin-Power made this rhetorical flourish to Big Dobbo outside the House, no doubt reflecting the deep interest in this topic throughout the land.

Many times last week, indeed, as we went about our business in Ireland, we would hear the fathers of families who have all now left for Madagascar, uttering the plaintive cry: has there ever been a time in the history of the State when Defence hasn't been the dominant portfolio in a stand-alone ministry?

Answer came there none.

We have heard people who are completely terrified by their financial situation, asking themselves, has there indeed ever been a time in the history of the State when Defence hasn't been the dominant theme in a stand-alone ministry?

In truth, as Davin-Power and Dobbo grappled with this supremely unimportant issue, the game was up. And if they had any awareness of the gravity of the situation, they would have paused for a moment of reflection.

Then one of them would have turned to the camera, sighed, and said: "We will be going now, we have bored you all long enough."

Apart from the love, and the endless holidays, RTE shares with Leinster House a reverence for the Irish language. It is a reverence which never quite amounts to more than a heap of bulls**t, but that is not a problem for them.

They know that Irish hardly exists at all in any meaningful sense in the daily lives of the people, but it is the official language of the ruling class. And that is where they come in, with their Seachtain na Gaeilge.

Or, if you like, Seachtain na Bulls**t.

Apart from its straightforward careerist aspects, among the things we did not hear about the gaeilge during Seachtain na Gaeilge was the sinister development whereby the ruling class are sending their children to the Gaelscoileanna in unprecedented numbers -- south Dublin, the land of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly, is full of them.

But back to the Seachtain, which was kicked off during the Late Late by that TG4 woman who chaired the leaders' debate in Irish, who spoke glowingly of the performances of the three men, and of the big buzz it caused at TG4. Ah, they love it.

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