Stephen Donnelly and Simon Harris get a breakfast grilling on Morning Ireland

If you’re explaining, you’re shedding, in response to the previous political adage. That being so, these pushing plans for the brand new National Maternity Hospital would possibly begin sourcing a white flag, not less than if radio protection of the matter is something to go by. Following the Government’s determination to delay a call on transferring the hospital to the St Vincent’s campus in Dublin, well being ministers previous and current seem on Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) in help of the proposal. But as they insist the brand new facility shall be free of non secular affect, cupboard colleagues Stephen Donnelly and Simon Harris go away a less-than-convincing impression regardless of – or due to – their detailed explanations.

The minister responds with a potted historical past of the hospital saga – which by now appears as historical as any Viking epic

As incumbent well being minister, Donnelly is first up, telling anchor Gavin Jennings the brand new hospital shall be “fully independent”. Though the state is simply leasing the positioning, which the Sisters of Charity declined to present to the State, Donnelly says that authorized agreements guarantee “multiple layers of protection”. Jennings wonders why such difficult preparations are wanted: “Why can’t we own a hospital that we’re paying for?” 

The minister responds with a potted historical past of the hospital saga – which by now appears as historical as any Viking epic – earlier than concluding: “What we have now is a legal structure between two voluntary hospitals and the State, via the HSE, to create a world-class healthcare campus.” Back of the online!

Jennings, nonetheless, is unmoved. “I’m still not clear, why can’t it be a publicly owned hospital on public lands?” Donnelly’s reply that the possession challenge is a “red herring” sounds evasive, however he’s unambiguous when requested if he’ll assure scientific companies corresponding to abortion on the brand new web site: “One hundred per cent.” 

The matter arises once more when Harris seems in his function as Minister for Higher Education to debate plans for reforming third stage funding. Interviewed by Mary Wilson, the minister is ingratiatingly Micawberish on this challenge, laying out proposals excessive on aspiration, if decrease on concrete figures: “I expect I’ll receive another pot of money,” he says. But when Wilson asks the previous well being minister if he has considerations on the hospital challenge, Harris laces his ostensibly optimistic reply with ambivalent phrases corresponding to, “This is about it getting it right.” Like Donnelly, he makes a compelling scientific case for the brand new facility, however the persevering with doubts about possession imply the political optics are blurred.

It’s a superb day for Morning Ireland, nonetheless. Jennings and Wilson method their encounters with forensic rigour, placing their ministerial visitors on the again foot – Harris sounds thrown when Wilson asks about “gendered objection” within the cupboard to the hospital plans. The hosts preserve their cool, however their dealing with of home politics injects the closely formatted flagship present with an urgency that may in any other case go AWOL. At least somebody is profitable.


The hospital story additionally receives reliably sturdy consideration on Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays). It’s certainly coincidental that the Cabinet pauses approval of the St Vincent’s transfer shortly after Cormac Ó hEadhra hears Prof Peter Boylan calmly eviscerate the plans on Tuesday’s present, however his evaluation of potential clerical interference is so excoriating that the delay by some means appears inevitable. 

Ó hEadhra and co-presenter Sarah McInerney proceed their protection on Wednesday, with Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan giving his backing to the hospital plans, albeit in decidedly lukewarm phrases: “It’s not the best option, but it’s the strongest one available at the moment.” (This resembles the kind of political Hobson’s selection warily described by sceptical Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan on Radio 1’s Claire Byrne Show earlier within the day.)

But opposition events perhaps aren’t as resolute of their resistance as their rhetoric suggests, because the hosts uncover. Sinn Féin well being spokesman David Cullinane decries the “convoluted” course of, however underneath wily quizzing by McInerney – “If Sinn Féin is satisfied that those [legal] assurances can be upheld, would you be happy to support this project going ahead as planned?” – it seems that the celebration’s bullishly said desire for a facility on State lands isn’t absolute. “We will come to an informed view,” Cullinane says, giving his celebration a useful off-ramp.

Such equal-opportunities grilling underline Drivetime’s standing as probably the most hostile atmosphere for waffling politicians on Radio 1. Other RTÉ presenters ask awkward questions, as Jennings and Wilson show on Morning Ireland, however none name out BS with the identical scornful alacrity because the Drivetime duo. When Minister of State Niall Collins seems on the present to debate the third-level funding proposals, Ó hEadhra is doubtful a few lack of element, saying his visitor can’t even quantify any discount in college registration charges. “We have to live in the here and now,” Collins replies feebly. “I don’t know what that means,” comes the host’s dismissive retort.

It’s not all firing-line stuff. There are extra thought-about gadgets, corresponding to Tuesday’s dialogue with Dr Ursula Bates on the tough query of how a lot one can grieve with out it turning into an issue. Plus there’s the standard spirited exchanges between the presenters, which imbue the programme with a lightness not often related to present affairs slots. 

Ó hEadhra admits, not with out satisfaction, that he hasn’t seen any of the movies. McInerney is incredulous. ‘How are you able to get to center age with out seeing Star Wars?’

With final Wednesday now recognized to many as Star Wars day (“May the fourth be with you”), the pair speak to journalist Gareth Morgan, who watched each film within the blockbuster sci-fi franchise in a single sitting together with his son. Such devotion is baffling to Ó hEadhra, who admits, not with out satisfaction, that he hasn’t seen any of the movies. McInerney is incredulous. “How can you get to middle age without seeing Star Wars?” she splutters. 

It seems that Ó hEadhra isn’t alone, nonetheless. “Who knew we would have a plethora of Star Wars deniers?” asks McInerney, as she reads texts from listeners proclaiming they’ve by no means seen the flicks, and might’t stand them. McInerney, alert as ever, pounces on this: “How do you know you can’t stand them if you haven’t seen them?” Try explaining that.

Radio Moment of the Week

Incongruity is the order of the day on the Ray D’Arcy Show (RTÉ Radio 1) when the host talks to “iconic memorabilia” auctioneer Martin Nolan, who has introduced Kurt Cobain’s Fender Mustang guitar into the studio. Nolan switches between anecdotes in regards to the late Nirvana frontman’s mom to discussing the eye-watering costs paid for his guitars: it’s a world away from Cobain’s disaffected nonconformity. Bizarrely, the dialog then turns to the Marilyn Monroe gown lately worn by Nolan’s “friend and client” Kim Kardashian: a much less grungy determine is tough to think about. But if the idea of Kurt Cobain and the Kardashians appears unsuitable, Kildare singer Jack L units issues proper by taking part in Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit on the storied guitar. It sounds terrific. Better to nevermind than get aggravated.

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