I was listening to Miriam O’Callaghan on the radio this morning and it was very interesting for more than one reason.
The first point of interest was that Miriam started the programme by issuing an abject apology for her conduct when she had her photograph taken at a do for a departing RTÉ colleague. She had let herself down by not observing social distancing and she had failed to provide a proper model for the public to follow.
I’ll pass on the one where Miriam thinks you or I use her as a model for our conduct. I’ll pause, however, at the fact that she clearly expects her apology will do the job, nothing more to be seen, move along. Tell that to Phil Hogan or, to a lesser extent, to Dara Calleary. They failed to observe social distancing and they got a kick that landed them out of their jobs – I mean, Phil Hogan must have been earning almost as much as Miriam, and even though he twisted and bobbed and weaved, they got him in the end. Sic transit gloria Hogan.
The other interesting thing was the Miriam was interviewing Billy Hutchinson, who has a book he wants to sell, which tells of his upbringing and how he became a loyalist paramilitary leader and the forces that led him to that. I didn’t hear it all but the part I did hear, Miriam was respectful and agreeable in her approach.
Which is good. I mean, given that Billy is not a Catholic, it wouldn’t have made much sense to ask him when he last went to confession, as she did with the late Martin McGuinness. But here’s the thing.
Because of what happened in his life, Billy was led to help with killing two innocent Catholics, and spent fifteen years in prison. Hands up (no, not like that, Virginia – just one hand): what are the odds that next week, Miriam will have an ex-IRA man on where he explains the forces that led him into violence, and maybe flogs the story of his life in a book?
Incidentally, I like Billy Hutchinson. I know him and I’ve always found him pleasant and co-operative. And I don’t mind at all that Miriam gives him a gentle interview as he sells the book of his life. What I do have huge problems with is the fact that there’ll be a squadron of pigs with technicolour tails flying over Montrose before an ex-IRA man – or woman – is given an interview in which they promote their book and explain the forces that led them into killing people.