Lockdown is tough. It is dreary and stressful trying to obey government instructions on getting through the pandemic. Don’t travel more than 5km. Don’t enter anyone else’s house. Don’t meet in groups outdoors. Wash your hands relentlessly. Wear a mask. Stay two metres distant from everyone you encounter. Only go outdoors for essential reasons. Under no circumstances are you to travel abroad unless Joe Biden invites you. Limit your human interactions. Educate your children from home. We’re all in this together. Blah. Blah. Blah.
I am heartily sick of it. Yet I persist. Not out of any sense of belief in the efficacy of these measures any more. The slogan ‘We’re all in this together’ is a meaningless catchphrase to anyone who lives alone after all. It’s more to do with the fact that there’s little other option. Everything is closed. It’s probably just as boring twenty kilometres from home as it is five kilometres.
Lately the messaging regarding the lockdown is becoming increasingly infuriating. Schools being closed is clearly a hugely, stressful and worrying time for students, parents and teachers. Particularly for those who are sitting their Leaving Certs or for parents whose children have special needs. Clarity on whether exams are proceeding is desperately required for many students. This is utterly irrelevant to me. I don’t begrudge the news monopoly of this story however and it is important and of national interest.
What strikes me as offensive is the complete disregard towards people living alone on the airwaves.
Take today’s Claire Byrne show. This is a daily current affairs radio show on RTE Radio 1, aired from 10am to midday on weekdays. It is presented by Claire Byrne. Byrne is rumoured to have been a member of Young Fine Gael during her college years (Fine Gael being the right-wing Irish Tory party). Whether or not she was a right wing student politician or not is not the main point here. What is pertinent is her bland presenting style and weak interviewing skills on a current affairs show, where politicians and experts routinely appear to discuss the issues of the day. She took over this hugely popular radio slot in August of last year. Prior to her arrival it was presented by Sarah McInerney for three months, following the retirement of long term presenter Sean O’Rourke. I started listening when Sarah McInerney presented the show. She was an excellent broadcaster – well able to cut through the dribbling babble of politicians on the programme. Clearly she ruffled political feathers with her more confrontational presenting style. Bland, processed, white sliced-pan Claire Byrne was drafted in to ask easy questions, and to toe the government line and to give the politicians of Fine Fail and Fianna Gael – the two indistinguishable parties who between them have been in power since the foundation of the state – an easy time. It should be controversial how seemingly compromised the national broadcaster is, when it comes to holding government parties to account.
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