Northern Ireland – RTE's only story

WARNING: Reading the following piece may result in dangerous raptures of excitement, please proceed with extreme care.

Rachael English and RTE’s Northern Ireland Editor Tommie Gorman were barely able to contain themselves as they excitedly analysed the various Northern Ireland candidates running in the upcoming UK election (Saturday View).

What’s your sense of the fascinating battle shaping up between candidates in South Antrim Rachel breathlessly asked some guy on the panel?

And what about the absolutely fascinating news from the pivotal constituency of South Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone? There’s a strong possibility that the Unionist vote may be split in this area.

My god, a split in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone Unionist vote? Such a catastrophe would surely be greater than the Haiti earthquake and Iceland volcano combined, the end days must surely be close to hand.

Tommie Gorman then treated listeners to a breathtaking, minute by minute, account of some guy called Campbell running for election in North Antrim.

I was out with him during the week, he was jumping across garden walls, going into farmyard sheds looking to see the man of the house, crossing the road if he saw people engaged in discussion. He was really keen to get involved in the chat because he’s very, very hungry.

(Tommie didn’t say whether he directed the man to the nearest McDonalds outlet).

Tommie also reported on somebody called Lady Sylvia Hermon. According to Tommie she’s had a very lonely time of it at Westminster but so sure is he of her success that he offered the following advice to listeners:

If you want to put your NAMA savings on a candidate in the elections I’d say you could put a few bob on Sylvia Hermon.

No, really, that’s what he said – put your NAMA savings on it – listen to the tape.

And as if all that wasn’t excitement enough listeners were sensationally informed that for the first time in the history of the Cosmos the counting of votes in Northern Ireland would take place overnight.

There are unconfirmed reports that RTE is to ask the RAF to airlift the entire broadcasting complex from Montrose to Belfast in order to provide in-depth analysis and everlasting coverage of this mega, historic, never to happen again event.

For years I’ve been trying to figure out why RTE is obsessed with all things Northern Ireland. Perhaps it’s because the station has invested so much time and resources covering the province, especially during the war years; that to now admit the war actually ended about twenty years ago would mean a loss of funding or even jobs.

I continue to listen to RTEs coverage of Northern Ireland, not because I’m interested in what goes on in that depressing place, but rather to witness the fascinating echo created by RTE journalists as they talk excitedly among each other about a story that all rational people have long forgotten.

Churchill, that great man of history, a man who knew the difference between great events and the absolutely boring got it right when he said the following about Northern Ireland during the House of Commons debate in 1922 on the Irish Free State Bill.

Then came the Great War: every institution, almost, in the world was strained. Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed. The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world.

But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.

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Saturday View

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