Monday, October 12, 2015

32 Things - Insider Gossip v Public Service Journalism

RTÉ are currently running an online series called 32 Things Paddy Wants to Know about the upcoming general election. This series is a precise illustration of the failure of Irish political journalism to inform the electorate about how the country is run.

The first of the 32 things Paddy wants to know is who’ll get elected in Cork South Central. This isn’t politics. This is gossip. Personalities are trivial. Policies are important.

The second of the 32 things is who’ll get elected in Tipperary. Again, gossip.

The third and fourth of the 32 things are how Labour and Renua will get on. This is a who’ll bigger, the Beatles or the Stones?-type story. Gossip.

The fifth of the 32 things is how women candidates will get on. It's an ideological topic, but there's no real substance there. The quotas have given the argument a false perspective, so you end up with a cat-fight report from Dún Laoghaire Fianna Fáil. Gossip.

Sixth and seventh are how Fine Gael and Sinn Féin will get on. See third and fourth.

The eighth is who’ll get the chop when Mayo reduces from five seats to four. Gossip, gossip, gossip.

That’s not public service journalism. That’s water-cooler conversation in the Dublin 2 Beltway. Fascinating for Insiders, not worth two balls of roasted snow to Joe or Jane Citizen. Here’s what Paddy and Patricia really want to know.

  1. At the time of the crash, we were told that Ireland was sold into bondage for the next thirty years. Now the economy is growing at six per cent per annum. So – what happened to the projected 30 years of living off hot gravel? Has an economic miracle occurred? Or has nobody really known what was going on since August 2008 they’ve spent the past seven years bluffing for their lives and thanking God and Frau Merkel?
  2. Six per cent growth per annum. Two per cent is ideal, isn’t it? Two point something, maybe? If the economy is growing at six per cent, doesn’t that mean it’s overheating? If it’s overheating, shouldn’t the government be trying to cool it down, rather than heat it up some more?
  3. Or has the government embraced Charlie McCreevy’s belief that if you have it you should spend it?
  4. Doesn’t that run against the advice of JM Keynes, who had the idea of a salting away the silver for a rainy day as a bedrock of his macro-economic policy? Weren’t we hearing about Keynes all during the crash?
  5. Or when they hear “Keynes,” are Roy and Robbie the only men that come to the government’s mind?
  6. I see those lads who terrorized that family in Tipperary had seventy previous convictions between them. How many previous convictions do you need until the Guards start to think you might be worth keeping an eye on?
  7. If you run up twelve points on your driver’s license you’re taken off the road. How can you have multiple previous convictions and still be running around?
  8. A guy with eleven previous convictions, for public order, robbery and assault, got a suspended sentence for beating the head off a girl on a bus recently. He was also recommended to do a course in anger management issues. Any idea where a citizen could do an anger management course after reading that court report?
  9. Speaking of our learned friends, does anyone remember that cutting legal fees was something the Troika stressed over and over again during the time here? How’s that coming along?
  10. Any plans to set up an Irish-Water-esque quango to get that show in the road?
  11. Yeah. Poor example, I know, I know.
  12. Remember when Enda promised a quango cull?
  13. Or the report card for Ministers?
  14. Whose report card are you looking forward to the most?
  15. Alan “AK-47” Kelly?
  16. Phil “Big Phil” Hogan?
  17. Doctor James “Bottler” Reilly?
  18. Heather “A Rebel I came, I’m still the same” Humphries?
  19. Jan O’Sullivan, who’s so helpless she doesn’t even have a nickname?
  20. Alan Shatter, who had the poor Attorney General plagued ringing her at all hours of the day and the night about the nicer points of torts, malfeasances and likewise legalease?
  21. He might even have asked her about fees now and again, of course. Just to break the tension and have a laugh, like.
  22. Speaking of reports, how long it’s been since Moriarty Tribunal Report came out?
  23. Four years? Four-and-a-half?
  24. And that’s resulted in – what, exactly?
  25. And Labour are all fine with that, I suppose? Them oul’ ethics aren’t bothering them? Martyrs for the ethics, Labour. Labour used to be worse bothered with the ethics than great-aunt Maggie with the lumbago. The ethics must have cleared up after Labour got into government. Poor Maggie is still crippled, of course. 
  26. And how are things looking in the North? Not too great?
  27. After all these years, wouldn’t it be something if Ireland were to be finally united by politicians on both sides realising that there are enough cookies in the cookie-jar for all the boys, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter?
  28. And are we all sure there’ll be enough room in Longford for all those Syrians along with everyone else?
  29. No Minister, I couldn’t name three streets in Longford either. Although I suppose Pearse and O’Connell are always good guesses.
  30. Did you see where the Phoenix reckoned the next Presidential election will be between Michael D, Miriam O’Callaghan and Enda? The Lord save us.
  31. Come here, Do you still have that brother beyond in Cricklewood Broadway?
  32. Do you think he could put me up for a week or two until I find a job and a place to stay? I’ve had my fill of this nightmare country.