Paul Healy’s Week


Chat show giants

Against my better judgement, I watched some of tonight’s Late Late Show, but I must admit it was actually quite enjoyable, certainly much better than the norm. The credit for that must go to the excellent musicians and the fact that there was – finally – a sense of ‘A list’ guests, with chat show superstars Graham Norton and Conan O’Brien both in the room. Actually, it might have been a good idea to have those two on together.

It’s a pity that likeable host Patrick Kielty made the error of judgement of guffawing throughout O’Brien’s heartfelt singing of ‘Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral’ – which was disrespectful (if not necessarily intended as such).


League countdown

No surprises in Bekan today, where Roscommon defeated London by a nine-point margin to qualify for a 10th successive FBD final.

It’s all shadow boxing of course, ahead of what’s to come. The usefulness of these early season tournaments has long been questioned, but I suppose at the very least they provide an opportunity for management to blood new players, albeit not in the most competitive of environments.

Roscommon won by 0-21 to 1-9, and the Roscommon People had Seamus Duke and photographer Bernie O’Farrell present (see our sports section).

Meanwhile, to continue the boxing terminology, the gloves will be on – or should I say off? – in a mere 10 days’ time, when Roscommon begin their National Football League Division One campaign away to Tyrone.

Let the (real) games begin – we can’t wait!


The whole country?

Half of the front page of the Irish Mail on Sunday is taken up with an image of Ryan Tubridy and a promo for his new column in that newspaper.

‘The new MoS columnist the whole country wants to read’ screams the headline.

But I have it on good authority that there’s an old man in Carlow, and quite possibly a lady in Leitrim – those two at least – who don’t want to read it.



Somehow, the Sunday Independent managed to create a song and dance about the fact that ‘celebrity architect’ Dermot Bannon was granted a private briefing from Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien’s department about a government (vacant homes) grant.

It’s a scandal, tweeted one ex-RTE man, while the apparently unimpressed ‘Sindo’ made it their front-page lead. Others took to Twitter to dismiss this as a non-story.

On the contrary, I think an immediate apology is required. No government department representative(s) should have to be subjected to a private audience with Mr Bannon – the celebrity architect should apologise immediately.


Lucky escape…

Unexpectedly, a happy ending to ‘Blue Monday’… as on our return from visiting family I flicked on Virgin Media to discover that I had missed Deputy Mattie McGrath’s entire contribution on the Tonight Show. Woo hoo Monday.


How not to govern…

On a more serious note, the scenes in Roscrea yesterday were a further worrying sign of the escalating crisis in relation to housing of asylum seekers. Scuffles broke out between protesters and gardaí as around 17 asylum seekers were being moved into the Racket Hall Hotel.

A disturbing pattern has now been established… locals stage protests at locations which are earmarked for accommodating International Protection applicants. Said protests are then at least partly hijacked by far-right elements in our society who have no association with the area in question. Social unrest ensues, our society becoming more divided.

I absolutely believe that racism is driving some of this, but it is also the case that many reasonable people have genuinely-held fears and concerns.

I also believe that the Government’s handling of the asylum seekers’ issue has been very poor. The Government can validly make the point that we are living in extraordinary times, but the Coalition has failed to appease public concerns, and stands accused of trying to house large numbers of asylum seekers effectively by stealth.

When it comes to accommodating refugees, we do need to do our share, and we should be compassionate. But our Government needs to be more open, transparent and honest in its approach.

Any protest that isn’t peaceful is not acceptable (and should not be tolerated). Equally, the Government must now urgently regain control of this situation, as  there is a real danger that something tragic could happen at one of these protests. We are crying out for a structured plan. This is now a simmering election issue bubbling dangerously in full view.


‘Faulty’ Towers?

On the asylum seekers crisis, the Government is in freefall… stumbling backwards towards its own goal (goalkeeper gone AWOL), tripping over the ball, arms flailing at the injustice of their plight.

On Prime Time last night, Thomas Byrne – the Minister of State for Looking Serious – drew the short straw. Presenter Miriam O’Callaghan must have thought she had been handed an overlooked script from Monty Python.

Miriam wanted an update on the Roscrea situation, to which Thomas proudly responded that the Government has reached ‘agreement in principle’ on the acquisition of an unused hotel in the town in order to set up a ‘community hotel’.

This is Roscrea, where Government policy has led to the closure (as a conventional hotel) of the hotel that was actually a hotel up to earlier this week. Now said Government, under pressure after a week of high profile protests by locals over the housing of asylum seekers in said ‘hotel’, have decided they can unearth a new hotel in the town, pretty much overnight.

“What is a community hotel?” Miriam innocently wondered. Thomas did his ‘rabbit caught in headlights’ impersonation.

Has the Government actually bought a building in Roscrea, Miriam queried. An agreement in principle has been reached, Thomas replied, terrified of saying what he didn’t know, wisely sticking to the hastily-formed briefing he had been given just before coming into studio.

But Miriam was incredulous. “It’s a bungled policy” she said to Thomas, who suddenly looked like he was doubling as Minister of State for Looking Indignant.

“The policy is very clear” he protested.

Miriam (in vintage form): “What? Close a hotel and then buy another one the next day?”

To be continued…