Monday, 4 April 2011
Duffy trumps Nolan (sigh)
There's a danger that I'll become a phone-in obsessive so I'll keep this brief.
This morning/early afternoon I posted a blog about the Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster (see below). I noted some good things about it but more that were not good - in fact, I said they were pathetic. So then I had my lunch and switched on Joe Duffy on RTÉ's Liveline. Stephen, I take it all back. You were brilliant, certainly compared to Joe.
The entire Liveline phone-in was about, naturally enough, the killing of young Ronan Kerr in Omagh on Saturday - may God be good to him. But instead of engaging with the central issue - why did the people who killed him do so and what do we need to do to stop anything like it ever happening again? - Duffy gave around 90% the programme to lining up callers who would attack Sinn Féin. Why, you say, I thought Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams were on air condemning the Kerr killing unreservedly and calling on anyone with any information to contact the police? Have they changed their minds?
Not a bit. Joe's callers were busy bashing the Shinners because the IRA once waged war against the British forces, including the police, and killed people. Duffy's constant guest throughout the programme was the sister of Mary Travers, shot dead by the IRA during an attack on her father Tom Travers, a Catholic judge, in 1984. Naturally enough, the poor woman was carrying pain from the loss of her sister all those years ago. But to take the killing of young Kerr on Saturday, resoundingly condemned by Sinn Féin which has opted unreservedly for politics, into a sustained assault on the Shinners, on the grounds that they once supported violence, seems, well, frankly anti-Sinn Féin. Like Nolan earlier in the day, Duffy missed a golden chance to explore the Kerr killing and suggest strategies for coping with and/or preventing further such horrors.
As I say, I don't for a moment underestimate the pain Judge Travers's daughter bears from her sister's death. But will we hear a similar Liveline phone-in attacking those who killed Pat Finucane? Or Rosemary Nelson? Or any on the dozens of families whose loved ones died in what many believe were British-loyalist murder gangs collusion? Not a chance. Meanwhile, let's use Omagh as a platform for a bit of Shinner-bashing.
To paraphrase the words of W B Yeats to the Abbey Theatre audience, this time directed at J Duffy Esq: 'You have disgraced yourself again'.