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Michael O'Doherty: Calm down, Ray is hardly getting €500k, but he's still top dollar

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Ray D'Arcy

Ray D'Arcy

Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Hubermann.

Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Hubermann.

McDonalds.

McDonalds.

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Ray D'Arcy

Like most people in Ireland, I hadn't heard of Ray Butler, TD for Meath West, until yesterday.

Elected for Fine Gael in 2011, Ray's main contribution to the Dail has hitherto been to raise issues concerning farmers, schools and sports facilities in his local area, rather than overly concerning himself with the national agenda.

All that changed yesterday, however, when Ray stood tall in Dail Eireann, and confronted head first the issue on everyone's lips. No, not the water charges, which so many people were protesting about outside Dail Eireann's front door at that exact time.

cap

Nope, not the homeless crisis, which saw a man die a hundred yards up the road last week. Nor was it anything to do with the Aras Attracta care home scandal, which has shocked so many people in recent days.

Instead, Ray Butler raged against Ray D'Arcy's salary.

"To see people getting €500,000 to go on RTE is ludicrous," intoned Ray, alluding directly to the sum that D'Arcy is reported to have been offered to lure him back to RTE. The TD then demanded that a "cap" be instituted on such costs.

First of all, maybe Ray should take stock and reflect on the source of his ire. The €500k figure, while bandied around in the media for the past few days, seems to be little more than a wild guess, based primarily on an 'insider' comment that: "It would take something in the region of €500,000 to get Ray to leave the commercial sector."

In reality, Ray D'Arcy is almost certainly not being paid €500k by RTE. The days of the State broadcaster throwing money like that at presenters are gone, with all the movement in the past few years having been downwards.

So to suggest that RTE have significantly hiked Ray's current Today FM salary to entice him to rejoin them is ludicrous, and the fact that Butler has given credence to this rumour suggests that maybe he should read further to get his "facts".

Furthermore, even if D'Arcy is going to earn considerably more from RTE, then he is worth every cent of it.

A hugely popular broadcaster, Ray's connection with the plain people of Ireland, his willingness to speak his mind, and the fact that he's as comfortable on TV as he is on radio, marks him down as perhaps the closest thing that we have to a successor to Gay Byrne.

So my suggestion to Ray Butler TD would be that he removes himself from the debate about what Ireland's most popular entertainers earn, and confines himself to what he knows.

After all, surely there are a few potholes outside Enfield that need fixing?

McDonalds need to get the message  ... locals in Greystones aren't lovin' it

A Safefood report, published this week, came up with a startling statistic. Some 70pc of Irish men are obese, as are 50pc of Irish women.

All of which will cause a huge burden on our health system.

It is just the latest in a long line of figures which reveal a damaging and, to be honest, mostly avoidable epidemic in this country, which costs the health services billions each year to combat, and is largely down to an unwillingness on the part of individuals to choose a healthier lifestyle.

So congratulations to the residents of Greystones, who are for the second time campaigning against the opening of a McDonalds fast food restaurant in their locality.

The proposed location is adjacent to three schools, conveniently close to the restaurant's primary target market.

It has already been once rejected by An Bord Pleanala but the fast food chain have launched a second attempt at bringing their own particular brand of high-calorie produce to the youth of Ireland.

LOCATION

McDonald's have, predictably, pointed to the number of jobs that the project will create, and denied that the location of the restaurant is deliberate.

"Proximity to local schools is not a deciding factor or part of the criteria for McDonald's when it comes to assessing suitable locations for new restaurants," it claimed, with a straight face.

To their credit, the residents of Greystones are refusing to give in, which has led to McDonald's trying to sweeten the deal by including a health and fitness studio in their new planning application.

Not only is this a slightly laughable attempt to curry favour with the locals, it is, ironically, one which sends out exactly the opposite message to what they would like.

After all, isn't it a tacit admission by McDonald's that their food makes you fat?

Amy's gift that keeps on giving

* Brian O'Driscoll has taken to Twitter to publicise a charming gift of a €2 coin, sellotaped to a card, that was sent to him for his son Billy this week.

Sweet as the tweet was, it was more of a relief to see that it had no commercial angle. After all, a few days earlier, Amy had tweeted a picture of a present that was sent in for Billy, which just happened to have come from Newbridge Silverware, the company who pay her to advertise their products, a fact which may have struck a sour note with some.

After all, there's a thin dividing line between sincere gratitude for gifts and using the birth of your child to publicly name-check the company that pay you so handsomely.

* A year ago it seemed that Brendan Ogle would never be heard of again. Far from it, however, as Brendan has moved on from his previous incarnation as ESB group of unions boss, whose threats of a nationwide power blackout stuck fear into our hearts this time last year. He has now surfaced on Youtube beside everyone's favourite online tit, Russell Brand, to spoon feed the latter info on the anti-water campaign.

Brand lent his support for yesterday's marches and encouraged everyone to bunk off work, egged on by Ogle, because "big corporations are doing you over at every opportunity by not paying their taxes". From rabble-rouser to organ grinder beside Brand's performing monkey act, Brendan Ogle has certainly come a long way.


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