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A riot of loons and looters

The day after Monday's wave of anarchy in the UK the Irish airwaves were filled with amateur riot-experts engaging in baseless speculation and dodgy racial politics.

A caller to The Colm Hayes Show suggested, with no evidence, that areas with the BNP on the council had probably suffered least in the riots.

A man on Liveline characterised the white faces in the riot as "young white people in society who want to be black". He then described this supposedly black identity in terms of lack of education, laziness and criminality.

To be fair, these shows were balanced by more nuanced perspectives concerning the relative lack of person-on-person violence in the riots, and the role service cutbacks might have played. Not so much on The David Harvey Show. Dave kicked off by mocking Home Secretary Theresa May ("an eejit") for refusing to countenance draconian crowd-control measures.


"I don't for one moment suggest that martial law should reign," he said in a manner that suggested that he did think martial law should reign, and before long he was joined by a colourful crew of loons and generic angry people.

It was the kind of mob that would bring a tear to a cult-leader's eye. The star was Steve from Finglas. He was a soldier several decades ago and so, apparently, was an expert in crowd control. He, along with many others, felt that a nuanced approach involving water-cannons and head-cracking were what Broken Britain needed.

"A good dose of water cannon would do these guys no harm," agreed Dave before attempting a joke: "And in fact you know something, it'd give them a good bloody wash."

Steve, not a man accustomed to comedy, suggested rubber bullets.

"Let's go easy, I was only talking about water cannon," said Dave, possibly worried that Steve might start dispensing rough justice on the streets of Finglas. "You'll be bringing back hanging next!" he joshed.

Bring back hanging? Steve was planning to unravel the whole western political tradition. "Political correctness and all this do gooder business and all this civil rights needs to be got rid of," he said matter-of-factly. Before long there was a bizarre discussion of our 'multi-racial society' with some callers channelling Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech, others nobly outlining the benefits of immigration and at least one woman showing a touching/misguided concern for Islamic road safety: "You can't see your wing mirrors if you're wearing a burka."

The looting hoodlums interviewed by Nick Ravencroft on Wednesday's Today programme on BBC Radio 4 were not wearing burkas.

They were wearing blue and purple balaclavas and a rubber-bullet proof sense of entitlement.


"I'm not really bothered," drawled one of the rioters about the consequences of his rioting ways. "I'll keep doing it every day until the day I get caught . . . nothing's going to happen to me."

Prison was no deterrent because "it's my first offence" and parental sanction was also shrugged off. Apparently his family knew he was out having a loot. I wrung my hands. Where do young people get the message that they live in a world without consequences?

On Wednesday's Newstalk Breakfast, two members of the last government discussed their post political lives in a diverting sequence titled 'The Agony of the Ex-TD'.

As Ciaran Cuffe and Pat Carey waffled about their rewarding post-Dail activities since rioting through our economy with their respective gangs, it was a little like listening to anti-social hoodies showing off their newly looted trainers.

Ireland's particular problems were put into perspective by some striking pieces of radio elsewhere.


RTE's excellent One World documentary, Oil in Uganda, examined whether the wealth generated by the Tullow Oil plant would trickle down to poverty stricken Ugandans (answer: hopefully, it will, but it probably won't).

Meanwhile, on The Dunphy Show, reporter Brian Carroll movingly described the death by starvation of a small child in Somalia.

On Monday's John Murray Show, former RTE star Simon Young put it all into perspective as he wisely and warmly discussed his own mental and physical health struggles. "If we were all to throw our problems into a pile on the floor," he said, "you'd soon grab your own back."