Obsessed with RTEs obsession

Noel O’Reilly, the producer of RTEs flagship news and current affairs programme Saturday View was in a quandary – Two stories, but which one to broadcast.

The first story concerned the world’s financial system which was in meltdown. Our own government had just staked all our futures on a €400 billion bail out of the Irish banking system. Everything was in flux; the news was red hot, dramatic. Historic events that will have far reaching consequences for every human on the planet were occurring from minute to minute.

The second story concerned a civil rights march that occurred in Derry 40 years ago.

Here’s how the presenter, Rodney Rice, introduced the show.

“I thought we could all do with a weekend away from the financial crisis. So we’ve come to Derry to be part of the recollection of that famous march on Oct 5th 1968.”

Actually, RTE was not giving us a break but rather was yet again indulging in its obsession with all things Northern Ireland. Nothing, absolutely nothing takes precedence over events in NI.

If somebody throws a stone, if a Catholic looks crooked at a Protestant, if a politician breaks wind – RTE will be there with their permanent and ever alert outside broadcasting unit.

RTE has thousands of secret agents operating all over the dismal province constantly on the look out for anything that could be defined as news. Deep in the bowels of Montrose, in a cellar the size of a Shuttle hanger, thousands more constantly pore over millions of miles of film and other archival material incessantly working on stories, putting together documentaries and preparing for yet another anniversary.

Last month a team leader was severely upbraided for failing to notice that a Mrs. Jones from the Falls Road in Belfast was knocked over and cut her knee during a riot in July 1974. A documentary commemorating Mrs. Jones’ knee is now in the final stages of production.

But RTE doesn’t just operate in the depressing and irrelevant past when it comes to NI. The Director General has a direct line to Moscow and Washington and is daily updated on how much time the world has before Armageddon should the red buttons be pressed.

Happily, it would take at least half an hour before total annihilation – Just time for one last documentary on the dismal province before we all go down the spout.

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve become obsessed with RTEs obsession – Bring on the nukes.

Copy to:
Saturday View

2 thoughts on “Obsessed with RTEs obsession”

  1. A true reflection on NI from an expatriate Republican. Please accept that I have NO agenda. Peader

    John is a mate of mine.

    Since I was a small child I have been fiercely proud to be Irish. A pride mostly instilled by my Republican Father. A pride nurtured throughout the years by a common hatred of the British and all that they done to my people for centuries.

    The thing which most defined my childhood and my early ‘adulthood’ was the ‘Troubles’ the Troubles were all pervasive they seeped into all aspects of daily life, they led the news at all times. Many people died. Many people were heroes, many people were afraid. I was afraid. I as a child was frightened that the British soldiers would come to our house like they did those houses in Belfast, Derry and elsewhere.

    I am a Republican and always will be. The Troubles and my Republicanism were born from one defining event. Blood Sunday.

    1 Parachute regiment of the British army killed 14 unarmed Irish civilians who were taking part in a civil rights demonstration. As we all know this led to almost thirty years of bloodshed and terror in Northern Ireland, southern Ireland and England.

    I’ve worked with John for ten years now; I’ve always known that he was in the army. For years I’ve wondered when he would have been in the army and what things he took part in but we never discussed it because it was just not the thing to do.

    Yesterday we did talk about it. We talked about it for hours. He told me how he stood on the opposite side of a gun to my countrymen on Bloody Sunday and how he fired because everyone else did and of how he was afraid. He is adamant that they were fired at first, I don’t suppose we will ever know the full truth but it will always be true that that day changed the lives of a generation.

    My conversation yesterday was a turning point for me. I finally got to lay some of the ghosts of the past to rest and although I will always be a Republican I feel I have come full circle because for the first time I have looked at things from the ‘other’ side.

    Although I will never agree that what the army did on that day was right I am glad that I got the chance to talk to someone who took part in my history and I am, more importantly, glad that times have changed for the better..

    John is still my mate

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