Joe Duffy lets callers express their inner Trump
Review: ‘Liveline’, ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’, ‘The Business’ and ‘High Noon’
Paschal Donohoe and Michael Noonan on “Today with Sean O’Rourke”: Donohoe proves an emollient antidote to Noonan’s grizzled realist persona. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
There comes a time when one has to admit that Donald Trump, however deplorable he may be, might have a point. That time comes on budget day when, worn out by the litany of figures trotted out on air by politicians and pundits, one begins to sympathise with the firebrand US presidential candidate’s preference for angry rants over the finer details of policy.
Luckily for those wanting to indulge their inner Trump, Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) is on hand with a special budget edition.
Joe Duffy hears from callers disgruntled by the Government’s measures, though some of their gripes are perhaps a tad subjective. David quibbles that the €5 pension top-up is really only worth €4, because it only comes into effect next March. Fran complains that cigarettes are now so expensive that she will now only buy them in bulk when on holiday abroad.
(Things are even worse the following day, when Tom derides the very notion of the State providing financial support for children. “The State didn’t impregnate those women,” Tom says jauntily, as Duffy’s exasperated sigh goes into overdrive.)
But it’s not an entirely post-factual zone. For one thing, Duffy is joined by personal finance expert Jill Kerby for some practical advice, even though few callers pay much heed.
Moreover, as so often before, Duffy’s programme quickly divines the key issue exercising the wider public. Kerby may be excited by a generous tax allowance for renting out rooms, but the host gently directs attention elsewhere: “The calls dominating our screen are about the childcare package.”
And so it turns out. There are many calls voicing concerns that stay-at-home mothers are losing out after financial supports were announced for children in creches. Liveline may allow the public to blow off steam, but it also highlights real blind spots that have otherwise escaped policy makers. Who needs Trump when we have Joe?
There’s still annoyance to be heard when the ministerial double act of Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe make their debut in the traditional post-budget phone-in on Today with Sean O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays). But compared to other post-crash sessions, when slash-and-burn finance ministers were effectively put in the stocks for callers to vent at, it is a dull affair.
This is partly down to Donohoe proving an emollient antidote to Noonan’s grizzled realist persona. But there is also less of the visceral rage of recent years. Even when the mood turns irate, it does so in the most polite way possible. Mary, a doctor, starts her query by cautioning that anger is a prime cause of heart attacks. This may explain her impeccable manners as she talks about people being “so angry” at the prospect of TDs getting a pay rise in line with public servants.
Donohoe responds to this kinder, gentler strain of anger by saying he’s “keenly aware of the hurt and anxiety”, adding that he wants to avoid past perceptions that TDs got one deal while everyone else got another. When O’Rourke presses the Minister on whether this means there will be a freeze on ministerial salaries, Donohoe says nothing, though by the next day it seems his host’s instincts were correct. It pays to get angry sometimes.
Away from the budget, The Business (RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday) hears from Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland. It’s an illuminating interview, albeit inadvertently at times. Host Richard Curran quizzes his guest with typical deftness: when Hallahan claims Microsoft is based in Ireland because of its talent pool rather than its tax benefits, the host wryly says: “All tech companies say that.”
That aside, Hallahan talks about her climb through the corporate ranks and how cancer caused her to re-evaluate her goals and her views on gender inequality in the workplace. The latter topic prompts her to speculate on the potential problems that lie ahead as automation replaces human jobs. In the future, she says, for every one man’s job created in the digital industry, five will disappear while “for every one female job created, 20 will disappear”.
What is striking is not so much the imbalance – 95 per cent of women’s digital roles going as opposed to a mere 80 per cent of men’s ones – than the blithe tone in which Hallahan writes off millions of livelihoods. It’s compounded by vacuous corporate language that accompanies this prospect.
“We need to bring everyone on the digital journey with us,” Hallahan says. “We have the opportunity to transform how we live.” To be fair, going on the dole does transform lives. It’s enough to make the blood boil.