Radio review: Golden oldie Hayes not really down with the kids
The uneven tone of Colm Hayes’s show on 2FM echoes his station’s dilemma
It is possible to address issues such as racism in a fresh but illuminating way, as Derek Mooney (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) showed during his interview with Nigerian-born nurse and singer Maureen Aku Disu. Having sent a CD of her song Bloody Immigrants into the show, along with a frank letter about the obstacles she has encountered during her 11 years in Ireland, Aku Disu was invited on to discuss the matter.
Her signature song may have been more notable for its raw message and rousing delivery than any obvious musical genius, but she was an engaging presence. Being different in Ireland was not easy, she said: “Life has not been a walk in the park, with people coming up to me and telling me to go home.”
She was particularly perplexed at being simultaneously accused of taking Irish jobs and living off welfare. But Aku Disu was also frank about the difficulties in Nigeria, from religious strife and corruption to the inter-communal suspicion she met when she fell for a man from a different tribe. She even offered a glimpse into the shadowy mechanics of getting into Ireland from Nigeria, candidly admitting that she had to pay people to smuggle her in.
Throughout their chat, Mooney was by turns sensitively attuned and gormlessly enthusiastic. When he asked his guest, who is now an Irish citizen, whether her friends were of Nigerian origin, he pulled himself up lest he seem to be racially profiling people: “That’s stupid, they are Irish, that’s my own ignorance.”
But when Aku Disu said there was little racism towards foreigners in Nigeria, Mooney’s response was toe-curling. “If I was there, would people want to touch my skin?” he asked with a giggle. “Get me on that flight.”
That Aku Disu did not take offence spoke volumes about her sparky demeanour although, to Mooney’s credit, he had by then conjured up a rapport with her. As a result, a compelling story emerged, combining human interest with wider, thought-provoking ramifications. All this plus new music. Perhaps she should be on 2FM.