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Gerry O'Carroll: Don't go into politics, Joe -- you'll lose all your power

Is it any surprise that Joe Duffy, the host of Liveline, has been approached by political parties to run for office?

Not just one, but every one of the country's parties have talked to Joe, both formally and informally.

Thankfully, the radio host is having none of it, saying he's happy with Liveline and has no plans to quit his show.

Of course, Joe would be an extraordinary catch for any party, a massive vote getter.

We saw how the RTE effect works with Fine Gael's recent capture of George Lee -- a much lesser light in the Donnybrook firmament.


Of course Joe's no stranger to politics. In his younger days he was the leader of a firebrand group of left wingers while in Trinity College, Dublin. He was expelled from that august university for his views. But even then Joe was irrepressible, and he was rapidly reinstated.

After college, the Bally- fermot man went on to be a probation officer, before he began his career in radio.

He has since built Liveline into a national institution, and is himself fast approaching national treasure status.

I know more people would trust him than any politician, that's for sure.

His show also provides a platform to people who would normally not have one for their injustices and their quibbles. It's the show that best encompasses RTE's remit for public sector broadcasting, as is witnessed by its massive audience. It's the sounding board for the ills of the nation.

And it's a scourge of politicians, their spin doctors and other high profile power- brokers in public life.

Joe has an instinctive and unerring ability to get to the core of some of the most important and sensitive issues of the day. I'm reminded of his broadcasts on the state of the public health service, the programmes which depicted in harrowing detail the dirt of our hospitals.

He's reduced the nation to tears with accounts of the sick and aged languishing on trolleys, critically ill.

Also, recall how the deceased victim Susie Long, denied treatment for bowel cancer, was afforded a voice on Liveline.

The programme has also given a forum to the tragic cases of women misdiagnosed with cancers, including breast cancer.

In one recent show, he interviewed Frank Deasy, who was dying as he waited for a liver transplant. This show alone resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people taking out organ donor.

In that one move he achieved more than any HSE paper pusher, government minister or expensive ad campaign could.

He has also embarrassed politicians in other fields.

Remember the call made by John Daly from his prison cell, which exposed the myth of maximum security at Portlaoise Prison as being meaningless?

In one phone call, Minister Michael McDowell was left redfaced, and the Government was embarrassed into clearing out Portlaoise Prison.


Other shows have seen him expose the chancers and conmen who patrol the country preying on elderly people.

He's also dealt with other conmen, the bankers who robbed us with a fountain pen and left a generation in negative equity.

Do you think Joe Duffy could have achieved any of the above in the Dail?

The very thought of it is laughable.

The Oireachtas has become so out of touch that one edition of Liveline can mean more than the 100-odd Oireachtas reports we get a year.

Joe, I know that your honesty and integrity would be a huge boost to any political party, but your contribution to justice and free expression is best served on the radio, not on the floor of the Dail.

Hang up on those politicians.

We will not stand for a banking whitewash

After much dithering, the Government has bowed to pressure from parties on all sides to hold an inquiry into the banking crisis.

But, incredibly, the inquiry will be conducted largely in private. The Government resisted a transparent and open inquiry, and favoured a halfway house, a semi-private compromise. Also known as a whitewash.

Such an inquiry will no doubt conceal more than it would reveal and would be utterly unacceptable to the vast majority of Irish people. Every man, woman and child in this country has been burdened with debt for generations to come and, at the very least, we need to know is why.


The collapse of our banking system, how it was left unmonitored, and how preposterous loans were granted, is one of the biggest scandals since the inception of our State.

The unhealthy and corrupt relationship between bankers, builders and politicians have led us into this sorry mess.

Nothing short of a full, open inquiry into these matters is acceptable. The greedy and incompetent bankers who have committed financial, if not national, treason should be named and shamed. Where appropriate, they should be brought before the courts.

The people who have seen their jobs disappear, who can't make their mortgage repayments, who will lie awake tonight worrying because their pension investment was frittered away, deserve justice.

The State should have taken the side of the people, not the influential minority who had access to the corridors of power for too long.

Another opportunity missed.

Let's name judges who took a cut in pay -- to shame the 31 miserly rebels

Thirty-one of the 142 judges asked to take a voluntary cut in their salaries have so far resisted the call to do so.

It is quite extraordinary that these 31 magistrates, who are held in such high esteem generally, are unprepared to step up to the plate and take some pain.

Everyone else -- from those on the dole to public servants, to private workers -- has taken a pay cut.

It's unacceptable that these 31 misers have not answered the call. Their conduct is a source of national embarrassment and shame, nothing less.

In the past, judges have been accused of not being grounded in the ordinary realities of life, of living in ivory towers, and this a golden opportunity for them to refute this myth.


There have been a suggestion that a constitutional referendum should be held to change the current situation to change the situation whereby judges are not liable for pay cuts.

That may be too drastic a step, but here's an easier one.

Publish the names of the judges who have contributed by taking the pay cut. This would put peer pressure on the other refuseniks.