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3 September 1998 Edition

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Television: Outside the frame

An Irish Voice: Niall O'Dowd (RTE)
Questions and Answers (RTE)
Fair City (Network 2)
El Nino (BBC2)
Sinn Féin, for so long outside the frame and the White House (though some would argue that is not a very safe place to be) have been of late given ``political expression'' through the efforts of Niall O'Dowd and his ilk, as profiled on Tuesday.

Although some of us may feel uneasy about forging links with US multinationals and shady politicians, one can't but agree that the pressure from the Irish American lobby has advanced the republican/nationalist case abroad.

O'Dowd, editor of the Irish emigrant paper The Irish Voice, was instrumental in drawing together a collective of irish Americans, including Bruce Morrison, businessman (capitalist) Chuck Feeney and Bill Flynn, and impressing on them an understanding of what was happening in Irish republicanism. He acted from ``outside the frame'' as a conduit between Sinn Fein and the White House, which led to a change in US policy towards Ireland, and the ``small but of immense significance'' granting of the US visa to Gerry Adams in 1994.

This was, in Adams's words, ``the first time Irish America delivered'' and was a major factor in leading to the first ceasefire, which was four years old on 1 September, though it only seems like yesterday.

O'Dowd, through his newspaper, has also lobbied extensively for the rights of Irish emigrants, particularly those seeking visas and those working as illegal immigrants.

Unlike home, there aren't extended Irish American families, which can act as a support structure in times of need, and the paltry American Social Welfare System offers no safety net - if you're not white and middle class life can be difficult.

O'Dowd has championed the cause of the underdog for some time now, and although the programme was a tad patronising to republicans and egotistical, one can't but be impressed by O'Dowd's contribution.

Pat Doherty was very much outside Vincent Browne's manic frame on Questions and Answers on Monday night. Browne led a posturing irrational mob on the Dublin 4 pseudo moral high horse, castigating Doherty on decommissioning and all their other favourite republican-bashing topics.

Browne's primary aim seemed not to advance the peace process, but to prove how clever an interviewer he is, and in doing so, he went completely over the top.

Doherty's calm and reasonable response was in marked contrast to the smug and prejudiced audience, obiously suffering from decades of censorship and misinformation.

The infamous ``El Nino'' weather system is not, as some would believe, a child, but in fact a cooling down of Pacific winds, which leads to more warm water and wetter weather. This rise in Pacific sea temperatures has truly global consquences, bringing with it harm and destruction that the world, in fear of its unpredictable moods, finds terrifying.

The beautiful Paroccas area on the coast of Peru is one such casualty. The elimination of cold currents has resulted in the anchovie fish shoals migrating north. This has led to more starvation for sea lions, cormorants and other such sea life.

The population which up to now recovered from the El Nino system over thousands of years, is finding it impossible to compete with human intervention. The factory ships and plants have garnered the bulk of the scarce fish, with catastrophic consequences for the wildlife, who in desperation are now turning on each other.

The increased dry weather of inland Indonesia has resulted in the rainforest becoming ``a tinderbox'' which eager developers are all too keen to set alight.

80% of Indonesia's forest fires have been started deliberately to clear lands, resulting in depopulation and enveloping much of South East Asia in a cloud of smog, which leads to respiratory illness among children.

The orangutan population has been driven to the forest edge, where they've been shot and the young sold for $100 each, resulting in a huge decline in population.

The farmers in Zimbabwe have learned the cruel lessons of El Nino, removing the domestic cattle herd, as their competition with wildlife in previous droughts, resulted in elimination of hippos, zebras and other animals.

It is the hand of man that is preventing nature from recovering from the natural effects of El Nino and unless we learn to live with nature's limits, the future may indeed be bleak .

Irish soap opera suffered its first ever casualty when Helen Doyle died of a brain haemhorage, releasing herself from the clutches of her alcoholic unfaithful partner.

``Fair City'' has recovered from a weak start to emerge on top of the ratings, featuring love quarrels, homosexual love, priests who desert their ministry in favour of lust, drugs, gossip and sex.

Sure where would you be going!

By Sean O Donaile

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
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