Fresh from my blog on the Murphy Report, I settled down last night to watch the Front Line. The Pat Kenny vehicle on RTE 1 that relates to the topic of the week and this week it was amazingly enough The Murphy Report. I do not know why I bothered because this type of programme irritates me because of its format which cannot include much serious debate because of the unbalanced views, the lack of intelligent thought and the general prattling of the invited audience which results in this low brow type of production. It was a pity as this subject is the closest to my heart at the moment.
Kenny was at his worst, immediately showing his biased unformed views which are inappropriate when chairing any discussion. He also had on with him the usual stooges – a patronising, grinning wimp of a priest, Fr Joe Mullen, Chairman of the Council of Priests, who immediately excused himself and said he did not know that this abuse was taking place. This argument is strange because any one and every one educated by or close to the presence of clergy knew it was happening, in my case since about 1961. So why should not the priests who if you like were in the thick of it pretend they did not know. Or is this just another lie to add to the previous litany. On also was Breda O’Brien, a teacher and Sunday Times columnist, who seemed totally unsure where to place her argument and the clever and verbose historian and writer, Dermot Ferriter, who never really came to the point except to say “”do not expect the Vatican to change.”
There was scattered about the audience various people who were guaranteed to turn this serious subject into a light comedy. A dry old crone called Mary, who must have been swept up off the back door steps of Drumcondra Palace, an atheist columnist from the Independant newspaper and various old men who could be relied upon to prattle at length whilst Kenny thought of some new device with which to progress the programme.
However some aspects of the piece stood out. The humility and sincerity of the red-eyed and abused young man from Wexford, who throughout the programme was subject to intrusive close up shots of his private anguish and distaste for some of the arguments put forward. The determination and emotional steeliness of Andrew Madden, one of the few abused people who stood up over 20 years ago and through thick and thin, against all type of adversity thrown up by Church and State, pressed forward his arguments and ensured eventually that this horrible crime of the Church was brought out into the open. Another man who distinguished himself was Niall Hunter, editor of IrishHealth.com who succinctly and quickly put Kenny in his place by following up the priest’s and Kenny’s inane interruptions about nuns and clean hospitals with the words “I do not understand your sentimentality in this part of the debate” which sent Kenny scuttling over to the far side of the studio to ask and interrupt more unformed and slack-minded people who could be guaranteed to let the status quo for many years to come except for the humble ex-priest, driven out of the Church years ago by the Bishops determination to favour the institution before the common good.
Most of the content of programmes like this would be better off on day time television where the propulsion is in filling time with cheap rubbish. Only serious matters carried out in a subdued and careful manner should be debated at this late hour by informed, intelligent people not overwhelmed by outside influence and not chaired by such a populist nincompoop such as Kenny.
I have now had my say in this matter and doubt if I will ever return to it unless of couse some new feature appears or the Vatican decides to sell up and go to Mars. Do not discount either action and let the abused have peace and solace in the fact they are now not alone. Most of the world is with them, only bishops and priests stand outside the Pale.