Paul Healy’s Week

The location: A typical enough house.

Wife to husband at breakfast: Any news in the paper?

Husband: Eh, just checking…

Wife: Hopefully they’re going to do something more to help us. We’ve both lost our jobs, we can’t pay the mortgage, we’ve three kids to feed…

Husband: Yeah…and no holiday this year, and our mental health is being tested…

Wife: There must be some news in the paper, some further response from the new Government. What have they come up with?

Husband: Can you pass the salt please, it’s behind those bills…

Wife: Sorry, that’s why I couldn’t see it! ANYTHING? IN THE PAPER?

Husband: Yes! There’s a story here…ah right, I have the gist of it. Seemingly the three Super Junior Ministers in the new Cabinet are each to get a €16,000 allowance, on top of their salaries…

Wife: Okay…that’s not really helpful, is it? We’ve lost our jobs, we’re behind with the mortgage as a result, we’ve three kids to feed, and you’re saying the new super junior ministers are each going to get €307 PER WEEK EXTRA on top of their salaries and expenses?

Husband: Yeah…but hold on…

Wife: Yeah?

Husband: The Government’s saying this salary boost has to be taken in the context of the wider stimulus plan they’ve announced.

Wife: Oh, that explains it! I was worried that we were being unfairly treated, that maybe there was a ‘them and us’ culture prevailing. Why don’t we both take it in that context, so? Onwards and upwards! Maybe pass the pepper, darling…it’s behind those other envelopes…the ones with the windows!

* Update later in column



There was a slightly odd, but endearing, Match of the Day tribute to the late Jack Charlton on BBC tonight.

When I saw it advertised, I had expected some fairly recent footage, maybe Gary Lineker in the chair, and a guest or two. In fact, it was an old interview between Jack and Garth Crooks, the ex-footballer who is now a pundit. Bizarrely, the backdrop featured shower units/bathrooms, as if the interview had been hastily arranged in a showroom. Knowing Jack, he may have done a sponsorship deal with a leading home improvements’ provider!

It was old footage, it was quaint…but it was a lovely tribute, with Jack discussing his career in considerable detail. Impressively, given that it was a BBC production, a large segment was devoted to Charlton’s time as Republic of Ireland manager.

Jack spoke with very sincere pride about his great relationship with the Irish people. He confirmed that he couldn’t buy a drink in a pub in Ireland – the proprietor or a customer always beat him to it – but dismissed reports that he would pay by cheque, only for his cheques to be framed by the recipients, and therefore never cashed!

This interview was further evidence of the wonderfully close relationship between Jack Charlton and Ireland. It was moving, and memorable.



I followed the return of club football in Roscommon on Twitter. Some great matches! Well done to all involved. We have coverage in our sports section this week.

Meanwhile, the Premier League season wrapped up on Sunday. All eyes were on the relegation battle and the chase for Champions League places. I was glad to see Aston Villa stay up, but felt some sympathy for Bournemouth and their likeable manager, Eddie Howe. Overall, the return of soccer in the UK – even without crowds – went very well. Roll on the new season.



I’ve interviewed Ivan Yates a couple of times. The first time is so long ago it was in the Forest Park Hotel outside Boyle – a building which is no longer there. Yates was Minister for Agriculture at the time.

Next time was in the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown. Yates, then of Celtic Bookmakers, was helping to promote a Cheltenham Preview Night.

“Horse racing” he sort of joked, “it’s full of gangsters and lowlifes! I love it!”

Any questions, asked the MC.

I had a question. “Mr. Yates, you said horse racing was full of gangsters and lowlifes. How does it compare to your previous profession (in politics)?”

In fairness, he laughed. We were both joking (I think).

He’s in the news because he’s quitting his TV and radio shows. As a presenter, I could take or leave him. He could be very good, but he was a purveyor of mock anger and outrage, more often than real. He was a broadcasting showman. His rants were often tiresome. On other occasions, he could cut through a politician’s waffle with impressive precision. I liked that he wasn’t politically correct. We need more of that.

Ivan got quite a send-off. I didn’t hear his last Newstalk show, but I saw his Tonight wrap-up on Virgin Media. Some of those politicians really will do anything to get some air-time. One by one, they lined up to pay tribute. Most of it was sycophantic, but I thought his old sparring partner Michael Healy-Rae was warm and sincere.

In the Sunday Independent, Ivan admitted that he is motivated hugely by money, and that he will continue to work – in PR, and making independent documentaries, like an Irish Michael Portillo.

On balance, I’d say Ivan definitely added to the gaiety of the nation, not that there’s much gaiety just now. Maybe that’s why he’s quitting!



The location: A typical enough house (bills still stacked on the table).

Husband: Well, any news in the paper today?

Wife: Well, in fairness, the three Super Junior Ministers are passing on the third €16k. Instead, they’ll share an extra €32k between them.

Husband: Okay, a bit confusing, but great!

Wife: And it gets better. Senior ministers, including An Taoiseach, are taking a 10% pay cut.

Husband: Wow! Awesome! Eat your heart out Jacinda Ardern!

Wife: But hold it, they’ll still be on MORE money than they are now…‘cos the previous government waived a pay rise…so in fact the new ministers will now be on more than the last lot!

Husband: Confusing, but at least they’re focussed on financial matters! So, to summarise…the super junior ministers responded to an outcry by doing a u-turn, but will now share €16,000 x 2 instead of x 3; and the senior ministers will receive more than the government of a few months’ ago?

Wife: Yep!

Both: Woo hoo! Fair play! (They do a high five over the rising mountain of bills on their kitchen table).