Radio: Kinahan-Hutch coverage heats up as reporters descend on murder scene

Review: ‘Morning Ireland’, ‘Moncrieff’, ‘Liveline’, ‘The Anton Savage Show’

Suspects: the Kinahan gang members believed to have shot Gareth Hutch, in CCTV footage

Suspects: the Kinahan gang members believed to have shot Gareth Hutch, in CCTV footage

 

Although the latest gangland killing in Dublin’s north inner city has raised questions about the number of gardaí in the area, there are unlikely to be complaints about a shortage of roving radio reporters in the vicinity. After the murder of Gareth Hutch on Tuesday morning the place seems to be over-run by microphone-wielding journalists looking to gauge the mood on the streets, with varying degrees of success and, indeed, intrusion.

On Wednesday Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) carries a vox pop by Aisling Kenny that captures a neighbourhood on tenterhooks, if not under siege. One woman describes being “on your guard all the time”, whether sitting in the pub, walking down the street or “going to the labour exchange”. If that statement is a bleak snapshot of local conditions, the potentially lethal intimacy of the area is captured by the woman’s remark that if she spots people known to be hitmen’s targets she’ll run across the road.

But what’s unsaid is as telling. The fearful atmosphere is perhaps best evoked by a man who refuses to be interviewed. “I really can’t say anything. I’ll get in trouble,” he says.

Henry McKean alludes to this wary atmosphere when he visits the still fresh crime scene for his daily slot on Moncrieff (Newstalk, weekdays). Standing near grieving relatives, McKean says that some people have been “quite threatening – one person told me he was going to stick my microphone somewhere”.

For all his befuddled persona, McKean is by now a seasoned veteran of these grim situations. This isn’t his first visit to north inner-city Dublin in such circumstances, he remarks. As such, he has a knack for eliciting jolting testimony from those who agree to talk to him.

He speaks to a local woman who lives beside the family of Martin O’Rourke, the innocent bystander murdered in a case of mistaken identity last month. She describes hearing the victim’s distraught young children asking where their daddy is. Such distressing stories vividly illustrate what Cllr Nial Ring calls the “air of hopelessness” in the area. “Would it happen in Foxrock? We think not,” he says.

One might also ask whether so many reporters would be swarming around with such anthropological curiosity if these incidents occurred in upscale Dublin.

The socioeconomic angle is also raised on Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays). Talking to Joe Duffy hours after the murder, Brian Mohan, a local resident and aspiring politician, says that “there is a class issue” to the ongoing carnage. He too doubts that such incidents would be allowed to happen in more affluent areas. But the attitude to inner-city murders is, Mohan says, one of “ah, that’s just themselves killing themselves”.

This aspect goes largely unexplored by Duffy. Instead the crime journalist Paul Williams analyses the lopsided feud at length, his tone veering between macho and apocalyptic. He describes the ruthless elimination of the extended Hutch gang by the Kinahan cartel as a massacre, adding that “no one can be accused of using tabloid hyperbole”. Williams goes on to speak such language fluently, just to be sure.

Williams may sound a jarringly callous note as he discusses the veteran criminal Gerry Hutch (“It’s only a matter of time before he’s gone”), but he is more agitated when it comes to how the killings affect the ability and authority of the Garda. He details how the loss of experience and resources in law enforcement in the austerity era has led to a situation where gangs operate with impunity.

Williams then criticises management under Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Describing the situation as one of “lions led by donkeys”, he berates the current regime as being made up of “desk jockeys” who are attempting to be – of course – “politically correct”.

Williams is an indefatigable journalist whose information and contacts are as strong as his convictions. But his valid points get lost when his outrage strays into the realm of caricature, as it often does.

When he commends the candour of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in calling the killers “animals”, his host gives a familiar sigh of exasperation.

“I know it’s remarkably candid,” Duffy says, “but where does that get you, calling them animals?”

An interview on The Anton Savage Show (Today FM, weekdays) about domestic abuse provides an unlikely but much-needed glimpse of optimism. Savage speaks to Sinéad, whose partner exerted such control over her, and made her so afraid, that she abruptly left him one Christmas, despite having no money or friends and being pregnant.

It’s not a fun listen, but it is informative. Sinéad reminds listeners that abuse is not always violent; verbal, financial and psychological threats can be just as terrifying. She also surprises Savage by recounting how, after seeking help at Meath Women’s Refuge, she went back to her partner, before finally leaving him. “I know, you’re looking at me,” she says of the host’s apparently disbelieving face.

Savage again underlines that, for all his arch presentational style, he can deal with trickier material, applying a light but sensitive touch.

Still, it’s Sinéad who provides the item’s unexpected uplifting moment. Recalling her despair when she arrived at the refuge, she says: “Dignity was handed back to me in a five-pack of underwear and a toothbrush that was mine.” Alas, dignity is still scarce in some parts.

Moment of the Week: Never mind the posing

On Wednesday the Newstalk newsreader Andrea Gilligan tells Seán Moncrieff about a study claiming that, for a woman to be a good leader, all she has to do is stand like a man. This “power pose” apparently involves standing with the feet apart while using expansive hand gestures. Moncrieff, as ever, puts his own spin on the news: “Ladies, there’s the message there. If you want to succeed, scratch your b******s.” Talk about being gender fluid.

radioreview@irishtimes.com

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