Paul Healy’s Week


Radio daze

So, in one (long) bound, our hero is free. Ryan Tubridy is away from all that turmoil, re-launched now in London with Virgin Radio.

All very fine, I suppose. Tubridy is a good broadcaster, and an entirely decent man (if slightly greedy of late). He’s entitled to relaunch himself. Mind you, the fact that his new career move was announced a day or so after RTE confirmed a redundancy plan probably wasn’t ideal. Which brings me to The Photo.

On announcing details of his career move, Tubridy posed with Virgin Radio star Chris Evans. Standing between Ryan and Chris was a (now) familiar individual: a grinning Noel Kelly, agent extraordinaire.

Did Ryan and Noel really think it wise to pose for this photo? If they did it from a position of naivety, it was bad judgement. If they did it as a ‘two fingers’ to critics/detractors/Oireachtas committees, it was a poor call. It wasn’t the time to publicly roll out the Ryan and Noel grin-heavy double act again. Too soon.




Enda’s All-Star

I’m thrilled for Enda Smith, who received an All-Star tonight. On page 41, I have the following (and more) to say…

‘It’s long past being Roscommon’s secret; the Enda moments – those remarkable, swashbuckling runs from deep – now have GAA supporters the length and breadth of the country looking on in admiration. In the end, Smith’s driving runs, his range of goals and points, the breadth of his skills, his leadership and calmness under pressure, all combined to make Gaelic football fans across the country sit up, take notice, and applaud.

‘As for the All-Stars experts, faced last week with serial champions, the safety net of eyeing the superpowers, the persuasive statistics… well, this time they could not avert their gaze’.

To read more of my views on Enda’s All-Star, see page 41. Read Seamus Duke’s comment piece, page 39.




Over and out

It says something about the poor status of the Republic of Ireland soccer team that I forgot they were playing the Netherlands (in the Euro 2024 qualifiers) this evening. Normally this would be a glamour tie, but these are dull times for the boys in green, and interest in the game has been limited all week.

We were watching Lupin (a far-fetched thriller) on Netflix, when I remembered that Stephen Kenny’s team were involved in their own far-fetched pursuit of lost football status. We only lost 1-0, but reports indicate that the minimal margin was largely down to our opponents’ wastefulness. On the RTE website, the headline read ‘Ireland end campaign with limp defeat to Dutch’, while the Irish Mirror said it was a ‘dismal defeat’.

We switched back to Lupin, where the main character (a gentleman thief) is consumed with the past – success-starved Republic of Ireland football supporters might identify with that.




Ben’s generosity

Tributes continue to be paid to businessman Ben Dunne, who sadly passed away on Saturday, aged just 74. He certainly lived a life less ordinary.

When it emerged at a tribunal in the early 1990s that Dunne had made a number of huge payments to politicians, the revelation gripped the country and dominated the news agenda for months. There was almost £500,000 to Michael Lowry, then a further £390,000 to the brazen Tipperary politician to pay for an extension at his house, not to mention the day Dunne personally handed Charlie Haughey a cheque for £220k (Ben: “There’s something for yourself…” Charlie: “Thanks, Big fella”).

Around that time, my family lived in Dublin. We were chatting to a publican friend one night, and the subject of Dunne’s extraordinary relationship with senior politicians came up. That Dunne had made the payments wasn’t in dispute. But did it follow that he was looking for favours, that the businessman was corrupt? Well, I’m not naïve, but I’ve never forgotten that Dublin publican’s remarkable anecdote about Dunne. It went something like this…

“A couple of years ago, this man came into the pub, and I recognised him as Ben Dunne. He stayed for ages, had a nice few drinks, enjoyed the craic with the locals, and was larger than life. The pub was in poor enough condition at the time, and in need of a facelift. Ben chatted with me about the business at some length. A week later, he arrived back in, and without any fuss, announced that he wanted to pay for a major redecoration of my pub! He insisted. He arranged for a team of tradesmen to get to work… wallpaper, paint, carpet, he paid for the lot”.

I know it sounds bizarre, but clearly that’s who Ben Dunne was at the time: an enormously wealthy, flamboyant and eccentric individual who was capable of making such gestures on a whim. (We were friends with that now deceased Dublin publican for many years, and I have no doubt about the veracity of his Ben Dunne story).

Ben Dunne was a giant of Irish business. There is one common theme running through the vast majority of the tributes to him; that he was a very generous man, and extremely well liked. This is a very sad time for his family. May he rest in peace.




Not right, said Fred

Home from a late evening in the office, to be greeted (on TV, not in person, I hasten to add) by Nigel Farage engaged in quite a tense Brexit post-mortem with… Fred, the (very nice) guy who runs the First Dates restaurant.

They’re in the jungle of course, taking part in the phenomenon that is I’m a Celebrity, and currently discussing the Brexit fallout, that and how best to cook kangaroo.

Meanwhile, Britney Spears’ sister (Jamie Lynn) looks on, doubtlessly wondering if it’s too late to ask her agent to renegotiate her fee.

I’m definitely missing Monday Night Football…




Final whistle

I see the Republic of Ireland are playing in an all-black kit tonight in their international soccer friendly against New Zealand. It makes sense I suppose, being suitably funereal for the night that’s in it (Stephen Kenny’s swansong as manager).