Marching season comes in like a lion but out like a lamb
Despite melodramatic touches, such as needless mood music, it was a vivid portrait of postcrash Ireland, where hope is in short supply.
In her audio essay on Tuesday’s Drivetime, Olivia O’Leary wondered if such despair had pushed the country into hopeless passivity, particularly in the light of Savita Halappanavar’s death. Citing the “learned helplessness” of some abuse victims who use pliancy as a survival tactic, O’Leary wondered if “the helplessness we learned as a people in colonial times has continued to dog us even when we’re free”.
Why else, she asked, had women voters not made their own medical safety an issue, instead electing successive governments that had failed to legislate on the grey areas left by the X-case ruling? But with Halappanavar’s death putting the issue centre stage, O’Leary said, the time had finally come to “take our lives out of the nods-and-winks box [and] show them we’re not helpless any more”. It was an eloquent call to arms, as well as a plea not to surrender to apathy.
Similar sentiments were heard on The Ray D’Arcy Show (Today FM, weekdays). D’Arcy has previously stated his annoyance about Ireland’s abortion laws, but this had been piqued by the fate of Halappanavar, nothwithstanding his tendency to conflate her name with a retro brand of cheddar by repeatedly calling her Salvita. Reviewing Tuesday’s papers, D’Arcy spotted a story about the Catholic hierarchy “cherishing” the State ban on abortion. “I’d love to say to them, ‘Excuse me, lads’ – and you can be very confident there’s no girls there – ‘can I ask a question, please? What’s your opinion on the 150,000 women who’ve had to travel to the UK for abortions since 1980? What do you think of them?’ ”
It was an outburst designed for maximum emotional impact, but it was striking nonetheless: it takes courage for a popular daytime-radio presenter to parade his clearly pro-choice views on such a divisive issue. In common with our seasonal marchers, D’Arcy is not about to throw in the towel.
Moment of the Week Fad diet or Famine
Appearing on Today With Pat Kenny (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays), Tim Pat Coogan showed his gift for the bon mot and his appetite for lively feuding. Discussing his new book, The Famine Plot, he took a swipe at “Irish historians who seem to be intent on telling us it’s not really a famine but a 19th-century precursor of the Scarsdale diet”. Scholarly? Maybe not. Entertaining? Yes.