Some manipulation for everyone in the 'Tubridy' audience
Confrontation was at the core of Documentary on One: Take No More (RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday), which recounted an incident that spoke dispiriting volumes about our times. Produced by Diarmuid McIntyre, Mairead O’Connor and Mary McDonnell, the documentary followed the stand-off that developed after unpaid subcontractors tried to remove fittings from a newly built primary school in Kilfinane, Co Limerick, last month. Faced by an intimidating group of men stripping the school of doors and cupboards, the staff texted parents, who set up a blockade.
The confrontation also provided the fortuitous opportunity for the producers, whose company is based in Kilfinane, to record the events as they unfolded. “We grab our microphones and race down to the school,” narrated McIntyre, whose son attended the school.
Through interviews with the parents, staff and tradesmen the bone of contention emerged: with the developer responsible for the school’s construction neither paying the subcontractors nor responding to their calls, the subcontractors had taken matters into their own hands. Teachers understood these grievances but felt they were a soft target and sought an injunction as all parties waited in the cold and rain.
As well as capturing the uncertainty and tension of the moment, the documentary painted an arresting portrait of the media presence that surrounds such stories as well as the attempted behind-the-scenes intervention by the presidential candidate Seán Gallagher.
But the most salient point was the melancholic air of all those involved. “There are no winners here,” was a common refrain. All parties felt powerless in the face of institutional indifference, even bonding over this common grievance: the parents provided pizza for the men they were besieging. In the end the contractor agreed to pay 90 per cent of the debt, though even then a last-minute stroke was attempted.
For McIntyre the incident showed how all parties had stood up for themselves and then come together “to find a resolution”. But he was also aware that it was a gloomy portent for his son’s future in an Ireland where “the many who can take no more” are pitted against each other. When there’s not enough for everyone in the audience, trouble will arise.
Moment of the week Inner child, phone home
Louisa McGrath’s report for Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) about adults who collect toys was meant to awaken the inner child.
But some listeners felt very old as Siobhán Hearne, of Hamleys toy store, spoke about the appeal of “nostalgic” toys. “Fisher-Price still have their old phone, which was probably around in the 1980s,” she said, audibly awed at such an unimaginable vintage.
If you can remember the original toy, there’s worse news: it was introduced in 1961. Happy Christmas, Methuselahs everywhere.