Paul Healy’s Week


“I know nothing!”

The story staggers on, as erratically as a drunk wandering home in the wrong direction while shuffling in his pocket for a house key that isn’t there.

I watched most of the Oireachtas hearings (Wednesday & Thursday) at which largely stony-faced RTE executives glumly did their best Manuel (from Fawlty Towers) impressions.

“I know nothing. I am from RTE!”

One thing’s clear. It’s every man and every woman for themselves. These rattled executives are no longer playing for the one team.

The politicians – some of whom were relishing this public humiliation of RTE management – varied between asking good questions, and rambling ones, with the odd ego-driven self-serving speech thrown in. But I digress.

The Manuel impersonators are due back in the cauldron on Wednesday. Expect more drama.




3.15 pm: I’ve decided, purely on principle, that I won’t be donating €12 to GAAGO today. Instead, I’ll follow Kerry v Tyrone on Twitter, or radio, while having a clear conscience about not contributing another brick in the paywall.

3.30 pm: Damn! I’ve given in to temptation and signed up to GAAGO for a second successive weekend. The coverage at our house today is fine, but as the afternoon progresses, there are reports online of many subscribers being unhappy with the service. Apparently the action from Croke Park kept ‘freezing’ for some viewers.

Frankly, GAAGO is an uninvited visitor that has muscled into our lives and is already overstaying its welcome. I feel it’s unfair on loyal and long-time GAA supporters that major matches are now being pushed behind a paywall by our national broadcaster, and our uniquely Irish Gaelic Athletic Association.

Confining two All-Ireland senior football quarter-finals to ‘pay per view’ on a day when they were the only two fixtures isn’t fair. These games should be free to air.

Then there’s the erratic service, that sense of discrimination against householders living in broadband blackspots. Even if you get perfect GAAGO access, the overall ‘product’ is inferior to what we’ve been accustomed to from mainstream RTE channels/Sky/BBC Northern Ireland.



Like old days…

Walking back to our cars from Cemetery Mass in Kilteevan, we gathered around a mobile phone to listen to the dramatic twists and turns of the Armagh-Monaghan penalty shootout. It beats paying for streaming coverage.

“What a classic Irish scene that was” one of our party commented later, “a group of people listening to a GAA match on the way back from a Cemetery Mass”. It was indeed a communal gathering that owed much to traditions deeply embedded within us. Up to 20 people – family, neighbours, friends – formed a circle around the small device that conveyed crackling updates of the Croke Park drama. Monaghan finally won the marathon shootout.

It dawned on me that this experience was an insight of sorts into how previous generations spent Sunday afternoons from the 1940s on, as they huddled around a transistor radio in someone’s modest abode, hooked on the words of Michael O’Hehir, captivated by football and hurling wonders unseen but gratefully imagined.



Majestic Dubs

Majestic Dublin ended Mayo’s All-Ireland hopes at Croke Park today, this after the westerners’ played a blinder in the first half (before their challenge wilted). My views on the weekend GAA are on page 39.



Greedy hoteliers

A small section of our hoteliers are shooting the entire industry in the foot. On Liveline today, callers complained that their hotel bookings have been cancelled. The bookings just happened to relate to the weekend (next year) when Taylor Swift is in concert in Dublin. It’s an overbooking error, the hotels claim. Punter are sceptical about that explanation.

On Virgin Media’s Tonight Show, Minister Jack Chambers bluntly accused some hotels of profiteering. He made it clear that the temporary 9% VAT rate for the hospitality industry will be discontinued. That’s tough on fair-minded hoteliers, but the greed of a few of their peers is a factor.



Er…an apology

On behalf of the entire Irish media, I wish to issue a heartfelt apology for a series of misleading headlines/reports which we inadvertently published/broadcast over recent weeks on the subject of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

We now accept that headlines/broadcasts inferring that this was the most open championship in years – and that nobody could pick a winner – were without foundation, and it was reckless of us to put them into the public domain.

In particular, we are deeply embarrassed by headlines such as ‘New-look championship adds air of unpredictability’ and ‘Round Robin revolution’ and ‘Anyone could win Sam this year!’ Equally, we are red-faced over the following headlines which somehow eluded sub-editors: ‘The power lies in Connacht’ and ‘Dublin and Kerry: Are they finished?’

The Irish media wishes to apologise for these misleading headlines and are anxious to now set the record straight. We want to clarify (for the avoidance of any doubt) that what we meant to report over recent weeks was: ‘Same old story! It’s Dublin v Kerry!’ and ‘Big two are untouchable’ and ‘They can tinker with the championship all they like, but the cream will come to the top’.

We apologise for any misunderstanding our presumptuous and far-fetched reporting may have created.

This is absolutely our final statement on this matter. Well, unless Derry or Monaghan place us in an awkward spot, in which case we will update our position!



RTE on ropes

I don’t know how long public interest in the RTE story will continue, especially with Dáil recess/silly season ahead. But I’m ready to tune in again this afternoon, as RTE chiefs appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Media – amid new revelations. We’ll return to this unfolding drama in future editions.