If you pay peanuts, you get mon­keys, un­less you live in this ba­nana repub­lic…

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

It was dif­fi­cult to pin­point what was the most de­press­ing thing about Look­ing Af­ter No 1 (Mon­day, RTÉ One, 9.35pm). The fact that the five TDs who fea­tured in the show spent so much of their time driv­ing around their con­stituen­cies when they should have been in Dublin work­ing as na­tional leg­is­la­tors? Or the brazen way in which they de­fended a sys­tem that makes ab­so­lutely no sense?

You’d guess that the deputies – Willie O’Dea, Michelle Mul­herin, John Lyons, Aen­gus Ó Sn­odaigh and Michael HealyRae – were glad of the pub­lic­ity. Here they were, caring and shar­ing, help­ing their con­stituents to find a de­cent coun­cil house, with a sun ter­race or back gar­den, or get a visa for a fam­ily re­la­tion flee­ing Syria.

Michael Healy-Rae was, un­sur­pris­ingly, the most ro­bust in his de­fence of ‘parish pump’ pol­i­tics, as he clocked up hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres a day, driv­ing around the roads of south Kerry, oc­ca­sion­ally tak­ing a note at the wheel. At one stage, HealyRae, a mem­ber of our na­tional par­lia­ment, pon­dered aloud about whether you were al­lowed to write and drive at the same time. Sure, how would he know? He’s too busy do­ing favours so he’ll be re-elected at the next elec­tion to be both­ered with any­thing as triv­ial as the rules of the road.

Nat­u­rally, there’s a lot at stake. Those TDs who ne­glect their con­stituen­cies in or­der to fo­cus on na­tional is­sues of­ten pay the ul­ti­mate price: los­ing their seat and their salary. Of course this is soft­ened by a gen­er­ous pen­sion. Dublin Labour TD John Lyons de­fended their large salaries with that cliché about mon­keys and peanuts. There are plenty of mon­keys in the Dáil, de­spite the mas­sive wage bill, but pre­cious few peanuts, un­less you count the kind they serve in the Dáil bar. That said, if we were pay­ing our TDs to work on build­ing a bet­ter coun­try for all, it would be worth it. In­stead, we pay them to spend hours on the phone bump­ing con­stituents up lists or ne­go­ti­at­ing with civil ser­vants, of­ten to the detri­ment of those fur­ther down the list.

But this is Ire­land, where we pre­fer our politi­cians to pull a stroke for us than to make sure the sys­tem works prop­erly in the first place. We’re the real mon­keys. The grip­ping ob­ser­va­tional doc­u­men­tary series, pre­sented by Bláth­naid Ní Cho­faigh (pic­tured left), re­turns for a new run. Over the past 12 months, RTÉ’s cam­eras have been fol­low­ing the emer­gency ser­vices, in­clud­ing the RNLI, Moun­tain Res­cue, Rapid Re­sponse doc­tors, the Cork City Fire Brigade and Ir­ish res­cue work­ers in the United States and Aus­tralia, as they risk their lives in dar­ing and haz­ardous op­er­a­tions. Us­ing hun­dreds of small por­ta­ble cam­eras, the pro­duc­tion team has cap­tured all the drama and dan­ger faced by these brave men and women. In this open­ing episode, the Rapid Re­sponse doc­tors fight to save the life of a six-week-old baby.

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