You think rock'n'roll is wild? It's nothing on feeding kids
Suzanne’s calm honesty gave the interview an almost unbearably raw quality, which may explain the host’s tentativeness throughout; he was particularly alarmed by Suzanne’s solo approach to her termination, undertaken because of financial pressures. Dunne sounded pained by the polarised audience reaction, too. “If you could keep a reasoned tone in your texts that would be great,” he pleaded forlornly.
On Wednesday, Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) yielded a jolting reminder of how such matters were once handled in Ireland. Following the publication of the McAleese report into the Magdalene laundries, Joe Duffy took calls from those who had experienced such institutions from inside and out.
But compared with the harrowing testimony that Duffy has hosted in the wake of previous clerical-abuse reports, there was a slightly different air to proceedings. For one thing, given the ageing profile of Magdalene survivors, there were fewer first-hand witnesses calling in. And while the uncaring nature of the church was again highlighted, the focus this time was on the State’s culpability in keeping women thus confined, with the Taoiseach’s highly conditional expressions of remorse coming under fire. “I’m absolutely disgusted,” said one survivor, Caroline. “I’m boiling over after what we went through.”
If church and state came under predictable fire, the supposedly reassuring family unit did not escape unscathed. One caller, Mary, explained how her mother had been committed to the Gloucester Street laundry in the 1940s after being raped and left pregnant. Brought up by nuns in a children’s home herself, Mary spoke about her first, upsetting encounter with her mother, at the age of 16, and the awkward relationship they later built.
Amid the emotion, Mary kept her eye on the bottom line, saying her grandmother had never been forgiven by her daughter. “She was locked up because she was pregnant,” Mary said, choking up. “She was raped.” A master at conducting such charged interviews, Duffy dug out every difficult detail but avoided prurience, dispelling any incipient abuse-report fatigue in the process.
Moment of the Week: Dunphy takes a punt
Game On (2FM, weekdays), RTÉ’s latest response to Off the Ball, Newstalk’s brilliantly irreverent sports show, got off to a solid if unspectacular start on Monday, with its host Damien O’Meara favouring extended analytical discussion over witty fireworks. But there was still a sparky moment when Eamon Dunphy joined an item on match-fixing. When the sports corruption expert Declan Hill said police authorities knew who the top fixer was, Dunphy, a self-professed punter, chipped in: “They didn’t tell you who he backed, did they?”