| 7.2°C Dublin

Michael O'Doherty: What is TV3 doing still fussing about Lorraine Keane?

In a week which should have seen RTE and TV3 looking forward, with the launch of the autumn seasons for radio and TV respectively, events have instead focused on the past.

In the corridors of Montrose, two deposed radio presenters refused to go quietly into that good night.

Jim Jim Nugent, axed from his beloved breakfast show, seized the chance to go out with a blaze of glory with a YouTube clip, playing on the famous quote from The Godfather to suggest that RTE had "made him an offer he couldn't accept".


Nikki Hayes's gripe was the suddenness of her removal, the fact that she wasn't allowed to say goodbye to her listeners on air.

It's the apparent callousness that has surprised so many -- not the act itself, but the fact that it was done by RTE, a company who have become synonymous with the term 'job for life'.

But here they were with Nikki -- no limp-wristed announcement that she will continue to develop other shows for the station... Just a simple "thanks for everything, on yer bike..."


Even more surprising were the noises coming out of Ballymount.

When TV3 should have been congratulating themselves on their best autumn schedule yet, instead they were fussing about an employee that left over a year ago -- Lorraine Keane -- as the publication of her book about her years in TV3 draws near.

Ultimately, I doubt that they've much to worry about. I'm guessing that the truth of her departure from TV3 is quite mundane -- a gradual process whereby little gripes started to add up, and one day it came to a head.

It probably ended with more with a shrug of the shoulders than a sudden right hook, and for all the hype, the real fun of her book will probably lie elsewhere.

The problem is that everyone on TV and radio wants to have it both ways.

Management want loyalty from staff, but also the right to axe them when a show isn't working; while presenters want job security from their current station, but the right to jump ship when a better offer comes along.

With Ian Dempsey's current contract nearing an end on Today FM, for example, he is well placed to negotiate himself an increased offer from his current employers, or jump ship.

Presenters rage about the fickle and temporary nature of TV and radio employment, but seem to forget that they can use it to their own advantage.


With so many marriages biting the dust these days, you'd have thought that those in the entertainment business could learn from that and approach their work in the same way. Enjoy it while you can, because chances are that one day either you, or the other party, will call an end to it.

And to use a Godfather analogy that Jim Jim would be proud of -- it's not personal, it's just business. David McRemond, CEO of TV3, summed it up beautifully. "Lorraine Keane was a very good presenter, she left... She's doing what she's good at, good luck with that."

In other words -- nothing lasts, get over it, move on. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Time we got wise to these tax rip-off artists

The Artists Tax Exemption Scheme, one of Charles Haughey's dubious legacies to this country, showed its true colours again this past week.

Far from making Ireland a cultural mecca, as intended, it's simply allowed a few pompous writers and artists to prosper.

Notable among them has been artist Robert Ballagh, who earlier this year revealed what an old windbag he is when he raged at Bank of Ireland's decision to sell off its art collection and give the €5m or so proceeds to charity. To that list we can now add French novelist Michel Houellebecq, who moved to Co Clare in 2001 to avail of our absurd generosity.

In a remarkable example of biting the hand that feeds you, his latest novel paints a grim portrait of the countryside where he lived, recounting a miserable life among desolate scenery and bad food.

He dismisses the Irish as being "natives who mixed with the English" and notes that "the only thing that interests the Irish is money".

Which is rich coming from a man who moved here simply to avoid paying tax and then moved to Spain five years later when the tax breaks were tightened. The scheme was designed to attract great minds to Ireland. Instead it has attracted twats like Houellebecq. Isn't it time it was abolished completely?