Paul Healy’s Week

All weekend


I’ll never, ever forget watching that very first episode of the original ‘Incredible Hulk’.

That moment when the soft-spoken Dr. David “Don’t make me angry” Banner (played by Bill Bixby) transformed into the Hulk (played by Lou Ferrigno) was really something, tv gold.

Banner/Hulk was suddenly all bulging muscles, an image which remains fresh to this day for millions of viewers all over the world.

I fear the same fate awaits those of us who’ve seen the images of Minister Richard Bruton over recent days.

Richard, the generally likeable Minister for (what is it? Oh yes, forever) has become a social media sensation, on account of being stripped off for a tourism video, with resulting glowing appraisal of his physique.

His “impressively toned beach body” (I’m quoting the Sunday Independent) even led to comparisons with Vladimer Putin. Richard rightly milked the fact that the video went viral!

Mind you, just where is social media taking us in terms of what’s considered to be important/worthy of comment?

Also going viral in recent days was footage of a man accidentally knocking over a loudspeaker while some politicians were addressing the media. Minister Paschal Donohoe went to the man’s rescue, but Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan was taken to task on social media for standing still while the incident unfolded. Big deal!

Social media goes crazy about such trivial stuff…meanwhile, the world is in crisis.



One of the brilliant new journalists to emerge in Ireland in recent times is Shane Beatty, a regular on Virgin Media & Newstalk. He’s terrific, as is Sarah McInerney. The old guard have been warned. New kids on the block. That’s life.

Still, I felt sympathy for Shane on Sunday. Driving into Roscommon town, I tuned into Newstalk. Shane’s guest was Willie O’Dea, The Man Who Won’t Go Away (yeah, I know, he’s got a mandate from his beloved Limerick constituents).

It was tiresome. Willie’s on a month-long rant/sulk, and it’s not at all clear that there’s an end in sight. He’s been snapping at his own leader’s heels ever since Micheál Martin

became Taoiseach. And he’s been having a cut at Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael too. What Willie would like us to believe is the following: That he’s merely exercising his right as a backbencher to speak out for the ordinary people. In reality, Willie is sulking because he didn’t get a ministerial call-up. And it’s pretty pathetic.

Willie, it seems, has a long list of grievances, most of them fairly trivial. At least Michael Ring, after his unseemly sulk when he was overlooked for a ministry, has had the grace to lie low since. But there’s no stopping Willie just now. Not unless you turn the dial, which I did.




I generally try to avoid repeats on TV (well, I make an exception for Fawlty Towers). Especially if the repeat is a tribute (by definition, out of date) to someone who has just died. For example, when a much-loved figure such as Brendan Grace died, there’s a lack of authenticity (however well meaning it is) about RTE rushing to the archives that day and summoning up an old Late Late Show tribute to the star. Much better to wait a few weeks or months and compile a new tribute show.

I wasn’t drawn therefore to RTE’s repeat of ‘John Hume in America’ which they showed tonight, in tribute to the great patriot, who sadly died today. But I ended up watching it, and it was superb – and very touching.

It reminded viewers of the colossal, single-minded role played by Hume in turning republicans away from violence, in firstly constructing an ambitious template for the peace process and then having the courage, patience, stamina and determination to see it come to fruition, indeed to ensure that it did.

He was a truly remarkable man, unquestionably a great figure in Irish history. Current generations, and generations as yet unborn, owe him a great debt.

The programme ended with moving footage of a clearly ill Hume walking alone on a narrow Derry path. It was very moving, but also dignified. Slowly and carefully this giant amongst men progressed along the narrow path, just like he had slowly and carefully led his troubled people along the pathway to peace.




There is no truth in the rumour that Taoiseach Micheál Martin is advising everyone to avoid foreign travel, with the exception of one man whom he wants to book a foreign holiday for: Leo Varadkar. It’s not true!




The rain is lashing down, like it’s trying to escape the skies, a thoroughly depressing sight, and perhaps a fitting backdrop to the gloom felt at last night’s stalling of the phases.

It was no big surprise when the Taoiseach confirmed that “pubs, hotel bars, nightclubs, cinemas, casinos” would remain closed for at least three more weeks.

Our publicans are like innocent people who received an unfair sentence in March; they are up for appeal every few weeks – but instead of being released, their sentence gets extended every time. Meanwhile, the rest of the nation is free, sort of. And the miserable rain slips on to the freshly painted walls of the silent bars.

No change either (after some confusion) on the limits that can attend sporting and other outdoor events, meaning if you want some quiet time to yourself – and a chance to avoid people – you should go to a GAA match.

It’s an ultra-cautious approach by the Government, and while it may be the right strategy – especially with reopening of schools in mind – I really feel for the publicans, for the hospitality and entertainment industry generally.

On Tuesday night, post the latest delaying-of-phases misery, I channel-hopped. On Prime Time, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was word perfect but sombre; David McCullagh hadn’t the will to even do his customary eyebrow-raising. Later, World Snooker highlights with no audience. I switched channels. On BBC, a presenter and guest were enthusing about Ireland’s – IRELAND’S! – win over England in cricket. Strange times.

It’s Wednesday morning, and it’s time to go to work, to wrap on this week’s Roscommon People. In an apt metaphorical commentary on the ongoing challenges posed by this virus, the rain continues to plummet down.

Not much fun for anyone staycationing just now. You wouldn’t see a sinner out in this weather, bar maybe Richard Bruton, flexing his muscles on the beach, one man’s proud resistance in an uncertain, troubled world.