Sinead Ryan: Vincent a sexist bully? You can add patronising and hectoring to that

Sinead Ryan

When a rude, sexist bloke starts rolling his eyes and being dismissive towards a woman, that's usually my cue to leave.

In this day and age there's no excuse for it, but then Vincent Browne doesn't live in our times. Joan Burton has called him "bullying", "hectoring" and a "sexist" after, she says, experiencing all three on his late night show last week.

Mind you, for the rest of us, it's what passes for entertainment, and it's precisely why people keep tuning in.

I've met Vincent and he's charming. No, really. Handshake, mumble-mumble, nice to meet you. I haven't ever been on his show, though. But then again, if Joan is correct, I belong to the 50pc of the demographic that he's, well, not a big fan of willie-less humans.


Women seem to feature on Tonight With Vincent Browne either to read the papers at the end (not overly arduous) or sit down and wait until they're spoken to.

Any glance through the #vinb Twitter page which runs simultaneously most nights will give you all the evidence you need. So when a woman who really has something to say, loudly and repeatedly, like our Joan, pops up, Vincent tends to find it highly annoying .

"The tone of the interview was very derogatory," said Joan afterwards before asking a "media analyst", whatever that is, how many times she had been interrupted (52), compared to other guests Simon Coveney (20) and Joe Higgins (0). Is she correct? Undoubtedly. Is it fair? Nope.

If being a sexist is not to have too much regard for the fairer sex, then Vinny seems to me like an equal-opportunity sexist.

When you see him in action with most of the male politicians on the panel, he can be just as bullying, hectoring and whatever else Joan called him.

His steam-rolling over Conor Lenihan, or handing Martin Mansergh a shovel to keep digging, are classics.

Brian Cowen has consistently refused to ever appear on the show -- a fact which Vincent drags up about, ooh, every 10 minutes. Does that make him a coward or clever? At least Joan turned up.

Patronising is an art form when it comes to Vincent.

Plonk someone like Ms Burton, who believes she's the people's champion, in front of him, and you have fireworks.

She complained that fellow guest, Joe Higgins, was given an easy ride, but the reality is that Joe is an easy rider.

He doesn't get provoked, he spits out the same message over and over and lets everything else wash over his head.

He also has zero chance of making up the next Government, so the pressure's off.

Vincent, having socialist notions himself, just grins and let's him away with it. It's only on RTE they have to tie themselves up in knots over balance, you know.

The politician of the day is wheeled out as "The Entertainment", like the court jesters of the bygone era where Vincent resides.

Last week, Joan offered herself up, bells ringing.

"He is very moody," she whinged of Vincent.

You've met him before then, Joan?

Of course he's moody . . . and irascible, and difficult, and preachy and irritating.

And that's precisely why the show is such a ratings winner.

We haven't much moved beyond the baying gladiator ring you know.

Tonight With Vincent Browne is staying on late every night throughout the election.

RTE is sticking on a hastily convened competitor in the same slot knowing full well they couldn't put Vincent anywhere near a Montrose studio themselves. The guest ratio will be fascinating. I'll be tuning into Vincent as usual, and any politicians, of either gender who choose the grilling, Browne style, start with a tick in my book.