Friday, January 18, 2008

What Have We Become?

The Evening Herald is reporting this afternoon that the Late Late Show program makers are eager to match up representatives of the Holohan and O’Donaghue families on the longest running chatshow in television history tonight.

The public is clearly interested in it – the tabloids are leading today with Robert Holohan’s father’s demand that Wayne O’Donaghue “stuff” his apology, and it’s not hard to understand Mr Holohan’s feelings. But of course if Mr Holohan were asked if he’d like Wayne O’Donaghue crucified on the Hill of Tara first thing tomorrow morning Mr Holohan would say yes, please. His feelings are understandable, but are they reasonable, and have they a place in reasoned debate?

What public interest is being served by raking over these people’s pain, all the time? There was a very sad image, taken from long range, on the Six-One News when Robert Holohan’s body was found three years ago. It was of the guards with their hats off, praying at the location where the body had been found. They knew that nothing but sorrow would come from this for anybody. Nothing good could come of this. Nothing. And now we have newspapers spending the week exploiting people who are demented by grief and the national broadcaster eager to broadcast – what, exactly? – on the flagship TV show of the nation.

The narrative of Irish history is a bloody one, the story of nation fighting for hundreds of years to be free and to govern its own affairs. And what do we want once we have that freedom? To see the Holohans and O’Donaghue go through the torments of the damned for our Friday night entertainment.

Anyone who watches or broadcasts this ought to be ashamed of themselves. Padraig Pearse wrote once of a people that were holy, that were august despite their chains. If this is the best the Irish nation can do with freedom then we ought to ask for the chains back. Freedom ill-suits us.

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