Paul Healy’s Week


Twitter freefall

“The bird is freed” Elon Musk said the other day, as he finally forked out $44 billion to buy Twitter. He said nothing about ‘freeing’ almost 4,000 staff of the company, a process which Twitter’s new owner has now commenced. It’s been cold-hearted culling too; the exiting employees (some of them based in Ireland) being told of their fate in unsigned emails, while their offices were ‘temporarily closed’.

For a groundbreaking communications company to embark on such an impersonal, ruthless ‘Ending it by email’ blitz isn’t without irony.



Talking to Joe(s)

In the Shannonside Radio studio with JF and JF; that’s host Joe Finnegan, and Fianna Fáil Longford-Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty (Isabelle Flanagan joins us on the line).

It’s good to catch up with Deputy Flaherty. We go back quite a long way. It’s over 30 years since Joe began his journalistic career with us in the Roscommon Champion. Memorably, he ‘cycled to Barcelona’ for the 1992 Olympics, but I digress.

After a few years covering sport in Roscommon, Joe moved to the Longford Leader, and rose to the position of Editor, and later rose higher still within the management of Johnston Press newspaper group. He was elected to the Dáil in 2020. It’s been quite the impressive upward career curve for Joe, who hails from a popular and well-known business family in Lanesboro.



Rugby rollercoaster

Virgin Media brings us Ireland versus world champions South Africa at the Aviva Stadium. It was a tremendous contest, marked by fierce physicality and unrelenting intensity, the atmosphere in the stands fantastic.

South Africa were on top early on, but Ireland defended superbly and then hit the Springboks with two tries in a blistering start to the second half. Ireland – currently ranked the world’s number one side – edged a great game by 19-16. On this form, and if all key players are available, we will be serious world cup contenders next year.



Juniors & Jungle

In Strokestown, the Roscommon Junior Football title went to Padraig Pearses. St Ronan’s had a great campaign, but the crock of gold just slipped from their grasp. Hard luck to Ronan’s, and congratulations to Pearses. Their epic drawn final a week ago was a joyous example of great sporting combat.

Later, we watched ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’. Such shows (Big Brother and Love Island spring to mind) attract lots of snobbish commentary, but for millions of viewers, they offer enjoyable escapism on long winter nights. I’ve never watched Love Island, but ‘I’m a Celebrity’ is a favourite in our house.

After its Covid-dictated diversion to a castle in Wales, the show is back in its familiar Australian jungle. Tonight’s opening episode introduced us to ten campmates, including Boy George (reputedly being paid £500k), and Mike Tindall. Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, whose decision to take part has led to an angry public backlash, will at some point appear as the I’m a Celebrity equivalent of an impact sub.

Actually, while I would normally have no issue with politicians ‘dumbing down’ for reality TV, I find Hancock’s participation to be extremely distasteful. Some people are annoyed that he’s abandoning his constituents; others focus on the alleged £400k he’s being paid. I’m with those who consider it to be shockingly insensitive of a man who was UK Health Secretary while thousands of people died in a pandemic to, a relatively short while later, partake in a show of this trivial (if entertaining) nature.




So, so confusing…

First, I was sure I saw him on two or three TV programmes, all in the space of 24 hours. Dermot, that is. Dermot ‘Omnipresent’ Bannon.

I saw him a few times on the telly, alright…either in the current series of one of his regular shows, or maybe in a repeat or two, or maybe it was him chatting (again) to Ryan…the two of them in hysterics, the perplexed audience wondering why (but laughing, as a courtesy).

I just keep seeing Dermot. I turned the TV off, because that way, Dermot couldn’t be as…present. But then I turned the radio on, and he was chatting to some (apparently) captivated presenter about something to do with…houses, I guess.

When I drove into Roscommon town, I realised this is getting out of control. I thought I saw Dermot everywhere…popping into a café, grinning on Main Street, chatting to two smitten ladies outside a supermarket. It can’t have been him, can it?

I wondered if there are two or even three Dermot Bannons. I mean, it would explain that omnipresence. Surely the celebrity architect hasn’t been cloned? I began to worry, not for myself, but for Marty Morrissey. If there’s more than one Dermot Bannon, Marty’s multiple broadcasting roles could be under threat.

Later, on the RTE website, I saw even more Dermot; he was chatting to Angela Scanlon on some new chat show. Initially, I froze, then convinced myself to watch, in case there might be some profound insights.

Dermot revealed that he stole a tea towel from Daniel O’Donnell.

These relentless sightings of Dermot/Dermots are beginning to bug me. In every instance, he is gushing, saying ‘wow’ – and looking extremely satisfied with himself. It must be a recurring dream, mustn’t it?



Mutiny on Bounty

In this fast-moving world of bountiful breaking news, it’s hard to keep up with everything.

I gather however that there’s been a (sweet) storm in a tub over the revelation that Bounty Bars are to be removed from Celebrations’ tubs in the UK in the build-up to Christmas.

This unsavoury move is in response to consumer research which revealed that Britons get very annoyed to discover that Bounty Bars are inevitably the last ones left in the tub.

The good news for Bounty Bar fans in Ireland is that we are exempt from the Bounty banishment.

Two more thoughts: What a mouth-watering week on the PR front for Mars Wrigley (makers of ‘Celebrations’). Secondly, and I know it would be impossible to police, but surely the more pressing challenge relating to Christmas chocolates is the eternal issue of people eating all the ‘hard ones’ first?