Saturday, 13 February 2010
Late Late Tabloid
For the first time in ages, I watched RTE's 'Late Late Show' last night. I knew Gerry Adams would be on, so I persevered through appalling rubbish to get to him. At one point presenter Ryan Tubridy asked the guest how she felt about her mother dying. WHA'? In fact several of the interviews seemed to be aimed at getting the guest as upset as possible, so the audience in the studio and at home could experience an intense emotional moment. It was tear-jerking TV at its most shameless.
The interview with Gerry Adams was very disappointing, mainly because Tubridy, in the guise of being a tough-nosed interviewer, kept tossing in comments and jumping to a new topic. At one point he was querying Adams if he'd ever lost a night's sleep over things the IRA had done and the Sinn Fein president linked the situation in the north over the last thirty years to experiences Tubridy's grandfather might have had (he was in the IRA in the early part of the twentieth century). "Oh come on - that was a totally different context - not the same at all!" Tubridy protested.
I'm not surprised, because the need to draw not so much a line as a chasm between the activities of the 'old' IRA and the IRA as it manifested itself in the north from the early 1970s to the early 1990s is a central article of faith of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Labour Party in Dublin. The name may have been the same, the objective the same, the modus operandi the same, but southern politicians and media remain terrified that people might see the conflict over the last forty years as being a continuation of the conflict of the early 1920s. The simpler solution is to classify republican violence since 1970 as an outbreak of mass criminality. That's the approved model, as put forward by the Gregory Campbell school of thought, and suits those on both sides of the border for whom constitutional change would be seen as disaster.
Gerry Adams was generally clear and effective in his answers but I couldn't help remembering how he demolished a whole panel of Late Late critics about twenty years ago and thinking how relatively ...frail he looked and sounded last night.