Summer sails onwards, ringing in the changes

Well, it really is summer time. We hear different voices on our radio, Cormac Ó hEadhra during the day, Dave Fanning and many others, replacing regular presenters who are gone for their well-deserved annual leave.

Sometimes the change of presenter leads to a good, different kind of argument on radio, and sometimes it does not work like that. But, by and large, we do not know who we will hear or see on any programme. And, of course, Prime Time is gone to one evening a week and Claire Byrne is gone for the summer. All in all, I wonder are we expected to lose all interest in what is going on in politics? It seems like that anyway. Summertime has surely hit the airwaves.

And while we are on the airwaves, what do we make of the forthcoming retirement of Vincent Browne? He has another year to run of his 10-year contract, but we are told that his medical advisor recommends that he should finish up now as he is suffering from stress. Well, if he is suffering from stress, many of his guests must be too.

I remember so well being on those panels with Vincent. From early on, I quickly understood that he aims to make a fall guy or gal of someone on the panel from the beginning of the programme, and then to harass and harangue that person until they subside, and Vincent seems to declare himself the victor. My main task on any panel was not to be the fall guy or gal - to avoid that at all costs. Of course, Vincent is very clever and his legal background leads him to be highly relevant to many of the debates he is having.

On a personal note, I always liked the way he never let the Government who came in in 2011 away with saying they had to rescue the country from bankruptcy, that they were left with no money, and all of that carry-on. He always said, very forcefully, “No, Brian Lenihan left you a programme, the money was in place, the budget had been done, so that is that”.

Of course, all of that meant people had great difficulty in coping with the stringent circumstances, but he did not let them away with saying that Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan left them with nothing in the wallet. The purse was full, they had to get on with the five-year programme which had also been arranged by Brian Lenihan.

I did a week, about five years ago, of hosting Vincent Browne’s show when he was on his summer holidays. I enjoyed it hugely and we had some really good debates, but I was not as ‘killer-like’ as Vincent is. Having said all that, we really will miss him. I wish him a happy retirement and an ease from his tensions and worries.

I was looking at President Higgins on Sunday during the National Commemoration Ceremony in the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham. To me, he seemed to be stepping it out with great gusto, up and down the lines of the Defence Forces. Then I started to think, when is the next Presidential election? Of course, it will be held in the autumn of 2018.

There is very little talk about it. We do not hear of any man or woman putting themselves forward to go for the Presidency. We have not heard from Michael D if he intends to run again, so the whole issue is somehow in limbo even though it is, in political terms, fast approaching. Surely the autumn will see some stirrings of candidates-to-be, or a decision from the current incumbent? Indeed, the present incumbent does us all proud when we see him performing his duties.

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit - so much talk but yet no detail. So much ill-informed blather, both in writings and in speeches, being said everywhere in all countries, and yet I cannot come to grips with what exactly is going to happen in the UK and, following that, for us here in Ireland. It is surely a great mystery.

Last Sunday morning I saw Vince Cable, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats in England, being interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC. I always like to look at that Sunday morning programme. Vince Cable said in his mind there would be no Brexit, that there is a growing appreciation in the UK that it is all a mess, and that they had better drop the whole idea. I do not know how realistic that is. It would be wonderful, but Theresa May is in a very perilous political situation, so I cannot believe that the next move forward will be to abandon Brexit.

I am leaving the sports to the last paragraph this week, but we had a wonderful time during the last few days. Last Saturday was, as you know, the third round of the Lions tour. I had thought to go out to Aengus and look at it on Sky Sports, but I got lazy, stayed in bed, turned up the radio, and had a great listen. You could feel the tension coming out through the radio. It was a wonderful game and, to my mind, a draw was a wonderful result.

Then we had a great win for Roscommon – the Rossies are very dear to me as I spent my growing-up years living in the county. They performed really well and it was a great match to watch last Sunday. The day before that, Saturday, we had Westmeath versus Armagh. Westmeath put up a good game. Indeed, both teams played well, but Armagh were the victors.

We will have many more good games to come during the summer and in the early autumn. For me, there is nothing better on an indifferent Sunday afternoon weather-wise than to put on your telly and glory in the game before you. At this stage the games are getting close and the players well matched, so it is a very good few hours of entertainment.

That is all for now.

I hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán for Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke


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