Friday 13 December 2019

Radio pundits swoon over political pin-up Flanagan

John Boland

REPORTER Abie Philbin Bowman popped into the RTE Radio One election studio to tell Sean O'Rourke about an interesting website he'd come across.

It was called Irish Election Rides, and it highlighted those candidates who were deemed by contributors to be the most sexually fanciable.

Sean seemed a bit nonplussed by this, but perhaps it's as reasonable a way as any of choosing a political representative.

Indeed, a few hours later on RTE One, Abie's dad John Bowman was applying the website's principles to Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, who was headed for European success up Longford-Roscommon way.

Ming, he fervently informed David McCullagh, was "a most attractive candidate, what the Australians would call a larrikin, a bit of a rascal, a bit of an outlaw, he's been in jail, he smokes cannabis, he gives half his salary away to charities". In fact, Ming was "an extraordinarily attractive figure and, of course, very striking looking".

David refrained from telling John to get a room with Ming, and on Newstalk the next morning, presenter Sarah Carey showed the same restraint with pundit Harry Browne, who seemed as smitten by Ming as John had been.

"What a wonderful 21st-Century Irish figure," Harry marvelled.

And Sarah herself seemed just as taken by the maverick politician when he came on the line to her, excitedly telling him that a plane trailing a "Send Ming to Europe" banner had swooped over her house in Enfield.

Sarah's show yesterday morning provided the weekend's best election entertainment, mainly because she was in party mood and wasn't about to let doom-laden talk about Labour's dismal showing or other such downers spoil the isn't-it-all-a-bit-of-gas atmosphere she'd winningly conjured up.

If you wanted tales of woe, they were to be found elsewhere.

"How are you feeling?" David McCullagh asked Pat Rabbitte on Saturday, to be met with the mournful response – "Not very well".

But at least the Labour minister was in less prickly form than two hours earlier with Sean O'Rourke, when he seemed to suggest that his party's dire results were somehow the fault of the electorate.

Indeed, the way Pat appeared to view it, it's we who were to blame for not appreciating the insuperably difficult but absolutely necessary task he and his colleagues had undertaken three years ago when agreeing to form a coalition on our behalf. And this was the thanks they got!

Oh, if only we were worthy of this visionary and caring party, whose idealistic candidates deserved a lot better than to be so summarily obliterated – Labour's Anne Ferris poignantly telling RTE One's Miriam O'Callaghan of their "courage", while Joan Burton lauded the "dignity" and "integrity" they'd demonstrated in the doomed electoral mission.

Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin, though, was decidedly chipper, assuring Miriam that the results constituted "a milestone in the recovery and renewal of the party".

Also guilty of overstatement was Children's Minister Charlie Flanagan, who told Radio 1's Cathal McCoille that Fine Gael was "well on the road to recovery", though he did allow that the Blueshirts needed to show a little more "compassion" while fleecing the electorate, not that he used those words.

But then back came Mr Rabbitte, just as bullish as he'd been a day earlier, informing Radio 1 listeners that the reason why the electorate had "lashed out" was because "they don't like things that are necessary, they don't like tough decisions".

Indeed, "people seem to have blotted out the fact that we had an existential crisis". So that's what it was. Sounds more like a job for Jean-Paul Sartre than for poor put-upon Labour ministers.

Over on RTE One yesterday afternoon, Labour's Kevin Humphreys was assuring Claire Byrne that although his party's catastrophic results were so "distressing" as to resemble "a death in the family", nonetheless Eamon Gilmore "will lead us into the next general election".

Claire heroically refrained from replying, "Oh dear".

And finally, a word about Sinn Fein, whose representatives throughout the whole weekend's coverage managed not to sound triumphalist, though it must have taken some effort.

Tiocfaith ar la, indeed.

Irish Independent Supplement

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News