Tuesday 16 July 2019

RTE – the last bastion of apartheid?

Kevin Sharkey. Picture: David Conachy.
Kevin Sharkey. Picture: David Conachy.
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Our national broadcaster is guilty of many things – creative inertia, management gobbledygook, a rather parochial outlook, an arrogance that has to be experienced to be believed and the sense that it is simply the broadcasting wing of that other arm of smug, dogmatic liberalism, The Irish Times.

Oh, and let's not forget last week's row, when it was alleged that David McSavage had a sketch about a sexy Jesus censored because they were apparently worried about falling foul of our lovely and enlightened blasphemy laws.

Or the licence fee.

But those issues aside, it can sometimes be quite good. Their sports coverage, for example, relies on wit and imagination and is by far the best thing coming out of Montrose.

Let's put it this way, I have less than zero interest in Gaelic football, but when Oisin McConville appears on Second Captains Live, I stop whatever I'm doing and pay attention.

But when it comes to the voluminous charge sheet against RTE – there are plenty of other examples I could have listed, but pressures of space and the lawyers prevent me from doing so – I was rather struck to see racism being thrown into the mix.

And not just any old racism, oh no. Apartheid-style racism.

According to former RTE presenter and artist Kevin Sharkey, RTE is openly discriminating against 'minorities' and, he says: "I want to see minorities in proper roles, not just the odd programme with a black person in it."

As it happens, Sharkey himself is an engaging and entertaining fellow who has a quick wit and a skewed way of looking at the world, and you could easily argue that he should have his own show. But then you could argue that lots of people should have their own show – it just doesn't always work out like that.

So RTE reacted with professional courtesy as they politely dismissed his claims? No, of course they didn't. Because that would have made sense.

Instead, they quickly rustled together a quick list of the 'minorities' who have graced RTE with their presence in the last year – as if the senior producers started running down the corridors screaming 'Ethnics? Have we got any ethnics in here? That fecker Sharkey is after discovering our secret!"

The embarrassing speed with which RTE produced its list of non-white people for an Oireachtas report was far more cringeworthy than Sharkey's grenade ever was. Take for instance, their claim that: "Jamelia, from a Caribbean background is one of the stars of the show (The Voice)." Wow, a real-life Jamaican? But they further reassured us that: "Fair City – in the past year, four cast members came from an ethnic background and 25 actors a week appear as extras, who also have a wide range of ethnic backgrounds."

Is RTE keeping a list of all the people with funny skin? After all, we saw racial lists being used before. It didn't end well.

This is where the essential lunacy of liberal lists and quotas becomes clear – for example, they mentioned the fact that one of the actors from Love/Hate, Aaron Heffernan, was a 'minority' – a disclosure which came as a surprise to me, I must admit. because in my racist myopia I simply thought he was a decent actor from Dublin. And while I don't know the guy, he'd be well within his rights to be monumentally pissed that RTE chose to use him as a clumsy piece of tokenism.

With dreary inevitability, Labour answered a question nobody asked with Aodhan ó'Ríordáin popping up to scold RTE by stating: "It is so powerful to have a minority face on TV or voice on radio."

Of course, it will only be powerful if the individual is any good.

But given this guy's history I suppose we should at least be grateful he's not running to the cops to have someone prosecuted.

These are some important things to remember when it comes to broadcasting – firstly, it's a tough, competitive world and not everybody makes it.

Secondly, and more pertinently – don't you think RTE would give their right arm to hire a high-profile 'ethnic minority' to be its next star?

Anyway, as long as they continue to employ Hector, they can surely argue that they are doing more than their share of promoting oppressed minority types who can't really speak English.


He has coped with a private tragedy by returning to public work and I'm sure we all wish Bob Geldof the best in the future. But he's still making daft comments.

Discussing the kidnap of the Nigerian schoolgirls, Geldof was quick to point out the reason for the latest Boko Haram atrocity – poverty.

Yes, it was poverty wot made them do it.

So, no mention of the forced conversions of the girls – a conversion which works as a death sentence if they return to their families, because then they will be guilty of apostasy.

No mention of the links Boko Haram have with international terrorism and no mention of the fact that they want to turn Nigeria into a part of the Caliphate and introduce sharia law to the country.

Yes, let's keep taking selfies and talking about 'poverty' rather than confronting the elephant in the room.

In fact, why don't we just send more foreign aid to Nigeria?

After all, they're only the richest country in Africa, so they obviously need more of our money as well.


If you ever needed any more reasons to watch the likes of 24, Spooks and Homeland then it is surely the fact that Amnesty doesn't like them.

Instead, Amnesty complains that the interrogation techniques in these programmes "makes torture seem OK".

Presumably, they'd prefer a more realistic depiction of terrorists being interrogated – so forget about having 24 hours to solve an increasingly ludicrous terrorist plot, we'd have an entire season featuring culturally sensitive questions, complete with a human-rights lawyer interrupting every five minutes to complain that their client's emotional well being isn't being respected.

Yeah, set the Sky+, for that one, baby!

Irish Independent

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