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Gerry's no doubt having a chuckle at mournfest

GARRET and daughter nearly made me drive off the road laughing on the way to Cloughjordan on Sunday. Mary FitzGerald and her father lovingly squabbled through Miriam Meets. "My adolescence was one long argument," said the ex-Taoiseach's daughter. With Garret in his 80s now, they're still arguing.

Food! He won't eat anything that's not hot! No chance of giving him a sandwich for lunch, she said indignantly. In fact, he'll only eat food that a 19th century Irish peasant would have eaten.

But that doesn't include, for instance, cabbage. Garret was indignant. He loved white asparagus, he pointed out. Oh yes, Mary snorted, like 19th century Irish peasants ate a lot of that.

Garret was the son of very political parents. His father Desmond fought in the War of Independence, took the Treaty side, and was a government minister when Garret was born.

His mother Mabel, equally political, was an Irish-speaking nationalist Belfast Presbyterian. She was disgusted to find that she'd given birth to yet another boy.

"She went off to Monte Carlo gambling for two months and wouldn't come back," Mary said. She's obviously her grandmother's granddaughter. You can't fight those genes.

MATT, they can't do any more to me, Stephen Collins said. "When these guys come into your life there's nothing you can do about it -- you just have to fight back."

A 24-year-old man had just been jailed after pleading guilty to killing Stephen's son Roy.

They're not gonna let go, Stephen told Matt Cooper on The Last Word. They're going to come after you. But there's no choice but to stand steady and face down the gangsters, said this brave man.

It makes me wonder: what's happened to us? Why is a small group of Irish people living a life like something from Dodge City?

Drug dealers are selling a product. They're businessmen. Why on earth can't they negotiate their market like any other businessmen? I'm not saying I approve of selling drugs. But if you're going to sell something, no matter how nasty, shouldn't you be trying to deal courteously with your competitors, not shooting them, and your employees, and any critics? It just seems such bad practice.

Poor Gerry Ryan is gone from us -- but I suspect he's laughing, up there in heaven, at the extravagant Princess Di-style mournfest that followed the horrible news.

How he would have loved it. I can just hear his acerbic comments. He would have been touched by the genuine emotion -- really moved that people cared so much for him. But as the headlines went on for day after day, Gerry would have given that devilish grin and reached out to touch a needle to the balloon.

Poor Gerry -- the terrible hours of a radio worker may have been a large part of the reason for his death. If you present a 9am show, you're usually up at 4am to get in at five for the research and preparation.

You eat at wrong times, you sleep badly, your digestion doesn't work, you live on your nerves. A life of exhaustion that makes your body a wreck.

If anything lasting is done in Gerry's memory, it could be a radio-centred lifestyle course, where people all over the country could work together on diet, exercise, de-stressing and sleep.

The Last Word, Today FM, weekdays Miriam Meets, RTE Radio 1, Sundays