After Pat Kenny's meltdown, the meeting on the stairs
TV REVIEW:THE PEOPLE AT TV3 keep sending press releases banging on about the number of times they’ve asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny into studio for a debate about the fiscal treaty.
“We believe such a debate is an essential response to the level of undecided voters,” they said in an email on Tuesday.
If the “boo-hoo, why won’t Enda come out to play?” plea wasn’t getting so much media traction for the station, you’d say they were coming across as a bit needy.
And, anyway, they’ve already had a debate on the fiscal treaty, a couple of weeks ago, and it was about as illuminating and irritating as the first generation of energy-efficient bulbs.
It’s doubtful anyway whether any viewers who value their time and blood pressure would be bothered tuning in for another debate, having seen the shambolic bunfight on The Frontline (RTÉ1, Monday).
Eamon Gilmore and Norah Casey (for the yes side) and Mary Lou McDonald and Declan Ganley (for the no side) were standing behind lecterns, which was about as debate-like as it got, because the four spent a lot of the time talking over each other, making it impossible to hear anything. When they were making themselves clear, they seemed to be doing little more than parroting well-rehearsed soundbites – which isn’t really a debate at all.
And then Pat Kenny had a meltdown. It started when a man in the audience, James, asked a question about the Common Agricultural Policy – and he wasn’t going to stop talking, loudly, about the Cap until he got his full 15 minutes of Frontline fame.
Kenny’s role, if this had been a grown-up debate instead of a noisy mix of Liveline meets spin-doctor fodder, should have been as a cool moderator. Instead he shouted at the unstoppable James, nearly kneeled down to plead with him to stop and finally, in a line I hope has caused him at least one mortified shudder since, said, “Come on, James, get a life.” More Jeremy Kyle than Jeremy Paxman.
Enda has it right. We’re not good at debates. Too shouty, too fond of talking and not listening, too preachy: the plodding performances of Joe Higgins, Micheál Martin, Mary Lou McDonald and Simon Coveney in the TV3 debate would make you once again grateful to Eugene Polley, the inventor of the remote control, who passed away this week.
The Taoiseach’s address to the nation tomorrow night will undoubtedly be deathly dull, and you’ll find your mind wandering off every now and again as you admire his tie or the nice wood panelling or his boyish haircut. But, whether or not you agree with what he says, at least the chances are that it will be a dignified, clear piece of communication.
‘MOST OF THE TIMEI want to go home. I really miss my kids,” said Leonora, sitting in the spartan staff accommodation of the care home she works in, just off the M50 in Dublin. The scene in The New Irish: After the Bust (RTÉ1, Friday) was intercut with shots of her last visit home, to the Philippines, and it took a while to realise that they showed the same woman.
In Dublin, when alone in her room, she looked unsmiling, even blank; but, larking around with her four children in a swimming pool, her smile lit up her face and she was a different woman.
This series, directed by Kim Bartley – it’s really good – gives an insight into what life is like for some of the people who came here from the farthest-flung places during the boom to make better lives, not necessarily for themselves but often, as with Leonora, for their families back home. Her life is all about working hard as a carer and sending money home; she has been here for seven years, having left the Philippines when her youngest was one.