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He Talked The Line
To some, Liveline presenter Joe Duffy is the nation's unofficial agony uncle, a voice for the disaffected and downtrodden. But the programme’s ‘open mic’ policy has landed it in controversial waters on more than one occasion. As his extremely personal autobiography is published, the host of RTÉ Radio’s No.2 programme accuses Trinity College of elitism, talks about the crusade against head shops, discusses his brother’s addiction and hits out at David McSavage's send-up of Liveline.
Olaf Tyaransen, 30 Nov 2011
You read a prayer at the Papal Mass in Galway in 1979. Your Catholicism seems very important to you.
I’d say it was more important to me earlier. In Trinity I used to go to mass every day. I think that was just 20 minutes of peace and quiet at one o’clock, thinking. I was very frightened when I went to Trinity because I had been three years out of education. I took it very seriously. You could argue I took it too seriously. Obviously I’d be disillusioned in the last few years and I’ve written about it in the book. Tony Walsh was in our house. Bill Kearney. These are priests, ex-priests… then we start getting calls about clerical sex abuse. The first radio interview Andrew Madden did was with me, about being abused by Ivan Payne. My thesis on this – all this abuse primarily, not totally but primarily, took place in working-class parishes, where they knew that the parents did not have the wherewithal, even in terms of writing letters to the bishop or the network or the connections which you might have got if you went to third level or whatever, to complain. And they preyed on these communities. Where did Tony Walsh and Bill Kearney thrive? Ballyfermot, Kilmore, Ringsend, Artane, Coolock… these are all working-class areas. You had the other fella, he’s deceased now, but the guy up in Drimnagh with the swimming pool in the presbytery in the back garden. Drimnagh, Crumlin, Walkinstown.
How do you think Ryan Tubridy is peforming in Gerry Ryan’s slot?
The figures are the figures. It’s very tough. Radio is like any entertainment medium. It’s very hard to know what puts bums on seats. What you have to do is find your voice, and then when you find your voice to have the confidence to stick with it. I think, and I’ve said this inside to managers as late as yesterday, that they made a mistake in getting rid of this review of the papers – Gerry started [his show] with the papers. And originally, Ryan started with the papers – they’ve now dropped that. I think it’s a bad idea. They have to have the confidence to stick with whatever they decide to do. And the problem is that when the figures start dropping, nobody has a definitive answer. That is our business. If your sales drop, Niall (Stokes) calls you all in and eight of you will throw forward eight different ideas as to why they’re dropping but the main thing is to keep… Hot Press has a product, it has a niche, has a brand – to stick with that.