Smoke and hot air on the airwaves

Patrick Freyne

Ed Hayes's missives from America often take a turn for the surreal. This week on Sam Smyth on Sunday the charming Irish-American lawyer began by outlining his Patrick's Day routine (8am mass; lunch with the monsignor; watch the parade) and ended by recounting his days frequenting dwarf sex-shows at seedy New York clubs. "Why does anyone have sex shows with dwarves dressed up in leather?" he asked rhetorically -- a question that has passed the lips of all the great philosophers.

I suspect some people listening to Hayes did a double take at whatever they were smoking at the time, and vowed to quit. On Wednesday, however, the cannabis campaigner Luke "Ming" Flanagan told The Last Word that he was forgoing the nefarious weed in order to save hardworking gardai the hassle. Anton Savage grilled him on the ethics of cannabis use and Flanagan responded with a list of political figures who had admitted drug use. When Savage noted that those politicians had been younger when they'd indulged, Flanagan observed that he too had been younger when he'd last had a spliff. This was strictly true . . . even though he meant two weeks younger.

As punters lined up to berate him, Dunne complained that Moriarty hadn't taken his psychiatric reports into account, and tempted fate with reckless trash talk: "Mr Moriarty if you believed what you put in print about Ben Dunne, make sure now that Ben Dunne is prosecuted and put behind bars," he challenged, using the third-person singular preferred by radioactive monsters, toddlers and Mr T.

Drivetime went to town on the Report. There was a studio discussion, a vox-pop from Lowry's Tipperary constituency (the gist: They still love him), a few words from Denis O'Brien's biographer (the gist: He's taking it personally), and an essay by Olivia O'Leary on our culpability for Lowry (the gist: We're eejits).

The next morning, on the O'Brien-owned Newstalk it felt like staff-members were handling the report wearing bomb-handling suits like those in The Hurt Locker. There was a defensive pre-recorded interview with Denis O'Brien. Ivan Yates, a minister at the time the second mobile licence was issued, kept relatively silent, leaving it to plucky sidekick Chris Donoghue to ask the hard questions and the listeners to draw their own conclusions.

It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry at all this. In the end I chose laughter, largely because of an entertainingly over-the-top poem called Surviving the Recession recited by the poet Dave Lardon on Arena. "There will be plenty tears to spare," Lardon promised. "Especially women's and children's. These make a wonderful hooch when distilled."

Sam Smyth on Sunday, Today FM; The Last Word, weeknights, Today FM; Liveline, weekdays, RTE 1; Drivetime, weekdays, RTE 1; News at One, weekdays, RTE 1; Breakfast, weekdays, Newstalk; Arena, Weeknights, RTE 1