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John Boland: Five men analyse five men . . . then along comes Ivan

IT was the morning after the night before and Newstalk's Ivan Yates was broadcasting from the front window of Bewley's on Grafton Street, a venue that seemed to excite him inordinately.

Indeed, throughout the show he kept raving about it, leaving the listener to wonder if he'd ever been in a coffee shop before.

On other matters, however, he wasn't quite so lavish in his praise. The previous night's leaders' debate, for instance, had been "a disgrace, a facile audition for the 'X Factor', a gross disservice to intellectual rigour" in which "the big loser was Irish politics."

Did guest Pat Rabbitte agree with that?

"Well, I wouldn't use such strident language," Labour's heavy hitter replied, but he seemed just as unenthused about the event, reserving particular scorn for the "fairytale economics" that had been propounded by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and for the "fairytale debating" of Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin, who, he said, had been "part of every government decision made in the last 14 years".

Micheal had also come under attack earlier from Ivan, not over the debate but because of his stab at a Chinese accent in his "You Irish, velly good at software" remark.

That had led a tabloid headline to denounce Micheal as a racist, although Ivan was more outraged at the lameness of the Fianna Fail man's delivery.

"What desperate mimickry!" he exclaimed. "If you're going to insult the Chinese, do it properly!"

Not that Ivan would, of course.

Over on RTE Radio One, John Murray was just as derisive about Micheal's rather misguided attempt at humour. "That's the worst Chinese accent I've ever heard," he said incredulously.

After watching the previous night's 'The Eleventh Hour' on RTE1, he was also derisive about the spectacle of various spin doctors puffing the performances of their respective leaders.

"Five men analysing five men!" John said in disbelieving wonderment.

Back on Newstalk, Fianna Fail's Conor Lenihan attacked the national broadcaster.

"RTE allowed Enda Kenny to hide from the electorate," he thundered, as if the Fine Gael leader had been missing from the 'Frontline' studio.

Confirming his misapprehension or myopia or whatever, Conor added: "Enda Kenny refuses to engage in public debate."

All very odd.

But Conor always has his own take on things, not least in his claim that every single person he'd met in the last two weeks had expressed their "horror" at the thought of Enda as Taoiseach.

"More horror than Fianna Fail?" Ivan sardonically asked.

On Pat Kenny's show, Fine Gael adviser Terry Prone revealed the nature of Enda's bond with the German leader.

"I wouldn't say it threatens Fionnuala (Enda's wife)," Terry confided, "but he has a very close and affectionate relationship with Angela Merkel."

That's nice to know and if they don't let it get out of hand, then it should stand us in good stead over the next few years.

The 'Evening Herald' poll on voting intentions in Dublin was much discussed and in RTE1's 'Campaign Trial', political reporter Brian Dowling deemed it "desperate news" for Fianna Fail.

But as Richard Crowley observed, in reference to the previous night's barney between Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore, Fine Gael and Labour seemed to be having "prenuptial jitters."

"So what do you least like about Fine Gael?" he asked Labour's Alex White.

"Well, certainly not Frances Fitzgerald," Alex gallantly said of the FG senator seated next to him. What a sweetie.

Irish Independent