Sunday 18 March 2018

Radio review: Life's easier if you're in with the In crowd

Tireless: RTE’s reporter Paddy O'Gorman
Tireless: RTE’s reporter Paddy O'Gorman

Eilis O'Hanlon

On Monday's Moncrieff, Sean was pondering the downside of living to be 100 years old. "You'd hate to think that you'd reach a point," he said, "where you're just boring the arse off everybody, saying the same things over and over again". Some might say that's a pretty accurate description of much commentary following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Thankfully, there were some brighter spots. Security analyst Tom Clonan, on the same programme to talk about Brexit, admitted that his initial response to the news was incredulity: "I thought it was a mistake, I thought it was Oliver Callan."

Then he started trying to understand it, concluding that the vote was an "inevitable" outcome of Europe's failure to listen to growing discontent in the face of the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

"Austerity always breeds conflict, it breeds nationalism, it breeds resentment, it breeds division," as he rightly put it.

The tireless Paddy O'Gorman made a similar point on Today With Sean O'Rourke, after heading up to Belfast to speak to nationalists and unionists about their reaction to the vote. Rejecting the view that voters who want controls on immigration are, by definition, racist, he said: "Working-class people sell their labour, they don't want cheap imported labour. Middle-class people, professionals such as you and me, Sean, have nothing to fear from immigration."

It was an important corrective at a time when a natural desire to distance ourselves from the Nigel Farage element in UK politics was tipping over into a degree of smugness. "Some beautiful Spanish music behind us there," Newstalk's Henry McKean even told English tourists in Dublin as he canvassed them for their thoughts on the decision to Leave. "Do you think Britain will miss that now that they're leaving the EU?"

Rarely can a sillier question have been asked on radio, not least because the busker was playing Beethoven's Fur Elise ...

Our own complicated post-Brexit relationship with the EU was the theme of Olivia O'Leary's fine weekly essay on Drivetime.

She admitted to being dismayed by the "patronising" response of pro-Europeans to the result, especially in light of many countries' recent memory of the EU's "bullying and humiliation", adding: "The wonder is not that the UK has voted to leave but that so many other states haven't done the same".

"People like me," she summed up, "cherish being Irish citizens and citizens of the EU, it has enriched our sense of identity ... but I still carry, as do many Irish people, the image of Jean-Claude Trichet of the ECB with his elegant foot on Ireland's throat", threatening that "a bomb will go off in Dublin" if we didn't pay every last bondholder.

Finally, the revamped Newstalk line-up looks like the proverbial parson's egg ­­­- good in parts. Pushing back The Pat Kenny Show to a 9am start offers a solid alternative to the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTE. Losing Jonathan Healy's excellent Lunchtime is more worrying. Will listeners be ready for George Hook so early in the day?

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