“We all get in trouble from time to time for the company that we keep.” These were Carole Coleman’s final words to Mary Lou McDonald on RTÉ’s This Week programme last Sunday. Evoked in response to the Sinn Féin president’s comments on Golfgate, I think most would agree that it was a fair comment when someone is “casting the first stone”. But it was Coleman’s quick reaction to “hold to account” that struck me as important. I thought back to the popcorn emoji that I saw journalist Lise Hand tweet earlier in the day when Justin McCarthy announced the show’s line-up. She was right, this was radio that was almost cinematic and she was just out of Brendan O’Connor’s newspaper panel herself. The Tánaiste was on the show straight after Mary Lou and was quick to hurl a few balls back at her and was also given short thrift.
Claire Byrne started her new role on Monday as the presenter of the primetime 10am slot on RTÉ Radio 1. She took the reins from her equally capable colleague Sarah McInerney
Mudslinging between politicians will always be a facet of politics and it is up to presenters to bring back the focus. Vital in an Ireland where communication breakdown currently seems to be the order of the day, every day.
This has been a good week for women in media. Claire Byrne started her new role on Monday as the presenter of the primetime 10am slot on RTÉ Radio 1. She took the reins from her equally capable colleague Sarah McInerney, who had covered the slot since Sean O’Rourke’s retirement. After the passing of Marian Finucane, Sarah filled Marian’s slot before Brendan O’Connor took up that role and I was lucky to be a guest on the show when she presented it. It’s not a bad position for RTÉ radio to find itself in. So much female talent that there are insufficient primetime slots to showcase it all.
The Golfgate story was broken by Aoife Moore of the Irish Examiner and I’d love to say “the rest is history” but I doubt that. The Derry woman spoke about breaking the story last Sunday morning with Brendan O’Connor. As she recounted the events leading up to the publication, she admitted that doubt began to creep in and the support of her co-author was important. The conversation resulted in Brendan almost rebuking her for doubting herself and giving over credit to her male colleague.
Support is vital to break down barriers which enable women’s voices to be heard, so long many it continue
Women across the media are supporting each other and this is evident across social channels. If interested, it is well worth finding the Twitter feed of Sinead O’Carroll of the Journal.ie for the timeline of Golfgate events and reading Claire Byrne’s interview with Niamh Horan in The Independent. Support is vital to break down barriers which enable women’s voices to be heard, so long many it continue.
Not in the Hot Seat: The Impact of Broadcasting on Women, a report written by Anne O’Brien and published by the Irish American Cultural Institute, outlined the challenges for women in media. It stated that women in Ireland had not yet achieved equality in the mass media. Neither in how they are represented or as participants. Instead, Irish women continued to be seen as passive, inactive spectators in society, politics, and media rather than engaged, vocal, and active participants. This, her report suggests leads to a situation in which women’s capacity to communicate publicly and engage actively is compromised. That was written in 2015 and it appears that in 2020 change is well and truly afoot in the Irish media landscape and we won’t be looking back.