Paul Healy’s Week


Moving on

By now, the ordinary man and woman in the street – the dogs in the street too – are ready to move on.

Every story has a shelf life. There are only so many front pages, or leads on news bulletins, you can claim. The longevity of the RTE pay scandal soap opera has actually been remarkable.

By the time Ryan Tubridy and Agent Kelly bashfully arrived at Leinster House earlier this week – like two naughty schoolboys summoned to the principal’s office – it had already been 19 days. 19 days of swirling words…claims and denials, twists and turns.

Then came that Oireachtas hearing on Tuesday: ‘Showtime: The Return of Ryan’. Deep down, we knew this was the Big Finale, or certainly the beginning of the end. It didn’t disappoint. Ryan and Agent Kelly (otherwise known as Noel) sat glumly before members of the Oireachtas, the two ‘witnesses’ pretending they were happy to be there. We watched, gripped by the exchanges, imperfect though it all was. Some of the wayward questioning left a lot to be desired; often the answers were laughable, reminiscent of the flights of fancy proferred by politicians during this country’s golden era of tribunal tribulations.

It was fun while it lasted, this RTE Exposed series. But, once we had our pound of flesh – by seeing repentant Ryan back out in the open – people were ready to move on. We couldn’t be expected to stay with RTEgate much longer. There was other stuff to deal with. For starters, the offensive weather. The relentless rain demanded our condemnation. The BBC was having its own problems, with top newsreader Huw Edwards the subject of unwelcome headlines over his alleged conduct. In some European countries, there are alarming temperatures, tales of hellish heatwaves.

Closer to home, there was the important matter of the race for Sam, the media talking up the likelihood of a glamour All-Ireland final between Dublin and Kerry. True, new RTE DG Kevin Bakhurst has been giving lots of media interviews, but this is no longer box office, more like a barman picking up glasses and sweeping the floor after a particularly busy night.

Rightly or wrongly, we’re moving on. Now it’s over to Mr Bakhurst – and the Government. Over the coming months, the public will check in every now and again to see if the promised RTE reforms happen.

As for Ryan Tubridy, his mastery of language was evident at that Oireachtas hearing, even if much of what he uttered was from his considerable reserves of plámás. At the end of the day, he’s a showbiz personality. He’ll be back in front of a mic – if not here, then with the BBC.



Every cloud…

Much as we might tut-tut about RTE’s extravagance (with our money), let’s not lose sight of the reality that some of our politicians have privately been loving this circus.

This is the political establishment that’s overseeing the National Children’s Hospital scandal (original estimated cost: about €800m; current projected cost: about €2.2bn, and rising).

Some years ago, our then-friends in the Dáil oversaw the introduction of dud e-voting machines; when the experiment was abandoned, the machines, which cost over €50m, were sold off for about €70,000.

When the scandalous Irish Water costs overrun hit the headlines, it emerged that about €70m alone had been spent on consultants.

In recent weeks, there has been very little media/public focus on the housing controversy or other issues, all because of the RTE fiasco. This is why politicians are secretly chuckling as RTEgate takes the heat off them and ushers in the summer recess. Happy days!



‘Dinosaurs’ roar again!

Since Colm O’Rourke surprised us all by becoming Meath manager last year – at the age of 64 – he has often been dismissed as ‘a dinosaur’. He may have been one of the greatest Gaelic footballers ever to lace boots, and a renowned pundit/columnist for three decades or so, but on his belated inter-county management debut the critics instinctively raised eyebrows and pronounced that O’Rourke is from a different era, a yesterday’s man – a legend certainly, but out of touch with modern management. It may be that they are right – the jury has been in no rush – but it’s been refreshing to see O’Rourke take to the role with a smile on his face and an enthusiasm for the considerable challenge he chose to accept.

If his team have sometimes been naïve, so be it. O’Rourke is going to reject much of The Gospel According to Modern Managers – and do it his way. Rumour has it that when he took over as Meath boss, O’Rourke had the temerity to tell his players to enjoy their football and “enjoy life”. One can imagine that a shudder skipped down Jim McGuinness’s back at that very moment!

Meath have been erratic under O’Rourke – mixing the enthralling with the naïve – but today there was joy midst the inconsistency with a fine victory over a fancied Down team in the Tailteann Cup final. I was pleased for O’Rourke. I note too that he had Meath GAA royalty, i.e. Sean Boylan, with him in the dugout at Croke Park. I can only assume that Sean – in the parlance of the critics – would be considered a dinosaur by dinosaurs!

Well, sport is meant to be about enjoyment, or at least that used to be the case. Today, two great football men have reminded us that class is permanent – and that it might just be okay to enjoy your football (and your life).



Football thrills

The All-Ireland SFC semi-finals were closer than widely expected. Derry in particular will feel they could have upset the odds. Monaghan gave their all against Dublin (Conor McManus a joy to watch). The Dubs finished clinically, a few of their stars playing from memory, as the peerless Joe Molloy put it on Off The Ball today.

Kerry v Derry was a fantastic game. Derry were superb, the champions in real trouble late on. Ultimately, they prevailed. I can’t call the final just now, and I’m not alone!



Rise of Rice…

I see Declan Rice has signed for Arsenal in a £100m transfer “plus £5m in add-ons”. Does that make him the most expensive Irishman since Ryan Tubridy?