Friday 25 May 2018

Sweet music of new politics plays around Dáil

In September Labour TD Willie Penrose brought some of Ireland’s best-known musicians to Leinster House to discuss proposed legislation to guarantee more airtime for music of Irish origin on the airwaves. Joining a session outside Leinster House were John Sheahan, trad group Moxie, Phil Coulter, Tony Allen and Johnny Duhan. Photo: Tom Burke
In September Labour TD Willie Penrose brought some of Ireland’s best-known musicians to Leinster House to discuss proposed legislation to guarantee more airtime for music of Irish origin on the airwaves. Joining a session outside Leinster House were John Sheahan, trad group Moxie, Phil Coulter, Tony Allen and Johnny Duhan. Photo: Tom Burke
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

The Doyle sisters battled the sound of passing buses with a haunting version of 'The Parting Glass'.

John Sheahan of The Dubliners gave a melodious blast of the feadóg and the voice of the centenary celebrations, Sibéal Ní Chasaide (17), gave a spell-binding rendition of 'Mise Éire'.

Phil Coulter and John Sheahan. Photo: Tom Burke
Phil Coulter and John Sheahan. Photo: Tom Burke

Phil Coulter was marvelling at the music of young Offaly band Ruaile Buaile.

Willie Penrose was only sorry he didn't have his bodhrán so that he could have joined in this unique protest session at the gates of Leinster House.

Later, TR Dallas rang from America to tell the Labour TD that he was sorry he couldn't make it.

"It went well, T," Willie told him triumphantly.

The session continued inside the meeting in the Dáil audio visual room during which Willie did a hard sell of his pet project - a bill to devote 40pc of radio air play to Irish artists, country, trad or whatever it may be.

The current 30pc requirement is going unpoliced, he claimed.

"I'll go out of here happy if I get this in," he said.

But he doesn't care about the kudos. It won't be the 'Mise Willie Homestyle Jamboree Bill'.

Sibéal Ní Chasaide. Photo: Tom Burke
Sibéal Ní Chasaide. Photo: Tom Burke

Afterwards, they all assembled in the Dáil bar for tea and a platter of mixed sandwiches. Someone sheepishly ordered a pint.

If music be the food of love, then Willie is hoping we can find a match on home turf.

Throw out Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris in favour of Irish musicians - who are currently probably going down a storm in Sweden or the States but are virtually unheard on our own airwaves.

"Put it this way - if I had written 'The Town I Loved So Well' last year, it would not have been played on radio," claimed Phil Coulter.

Danny McCarthy. Photo: Tom Burke
Danny McCarthy. Photo: Tom Burke

"If Johnny Duhan had written 'The Voyage' last year, it would not have been played on radio. If Paul Brady had written 'The Island', it would not have been played on Irish radio.

"Irish radio today is not playing Irish music, full stop," he said.

"I don't know what the basis of it is," said John Sheahan. "I think some people at the top are ashamed of their own Irish culture. Why that is, I don't know," he mused.

But will the Irish people be happy with a diet of 40pc healthy homecooking and 60pc foreign sugar?

"They can always turn the dial," insisted Willie.

With all that music floating through the corridors, it was small wonder the minds of our elected representatives drifted to romance throughout the day.

It was frankly a little disturbing.

Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly referenced the 'Kama Sutra' when she accused Fianna Fáil of funny business on Irish Water, when she said the party has had "more positions" on the issue than the saucy Hindu text.

Gerry Adams enjoyed that. "I commend Teachta O'Reilly for that line and I'm sorry I didn't think of it myself," he said.

"But anyway, Fianna Fáil and the 'Kama Sutra', the mind boggles. My teddy bears are virgins, a cathaoirleach."

Poor Seán O Fearghail, the Ceann Comhairle, didn't know where to look.

Certainly not at Gerry's Twitter feed to examine whether his well-publicised teddy bears have a hunted appearance.

Barry Cowen grappled to normalise the tone, railing at Sinn Féin's "Houdini-like contortions".

"Play your games. Have your time in the sun. Have your stunt. I'll clear the stage for you, no problem," he offered.

New politics? Play on, indeed.

Irish Independent

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