TV & Radio

Welcome media focus on gambling
Al Porter listening to Eithne Shortall on Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge.

Apart from alcohol dependency, gambling has to be one of the most destructive addictions in this country, and one that we’re way too ambiguous about.

And so it was a welcome awareness-raising exercise when stand-in presenter Dr Ciara Kelly interviewed Maebh Leahy, CEO of the Rutland Centre, on Newstalk’s High Noon last week. The specific focus was on how women were becoming more involved in gambling largely because of the increased availability of online gambling through various apps and websites. 

Traditionally gambling was associated with men, and the bookie’s shop was not a female-friendly place, but now things had changed and a surge of female addicts was expected at treatment centres. The male association with gambling made it harder for women to come forward and seek treatment.

While gambling was often a competitive thing with men, women were offered escape, relaxation, social life, but of course this was the initial offering that led to a very different reality once the addiction took hold. And of course as it worsened there was deceit, manipulation, excessive borrowing, and in some cases the loss of almost everything. 

Kelly instanced one person she knew who had lost the family home twice.

Leahy had concluding advice – for those conscious of the addiction she recommended seeking treatment, with the GP as a good first port of call and she urged politicians to push forward with the Gambling Control Bill, in the pipeline since 2012. 


Another useful conversation took place on Newstalk’s Breakfast the next morning when Shane Coleman interviewed family psychologist John Rosemond. 

He had created a stir in a recent column in support of what might be called traditional parenting. He favoured families being adult-centred rather than child-centred, as he believed this encouraged respect in children, for their parents and others. In recent years the focus had shifted to families being centred around the ‘supposed needs’ of children, who were getting lots of attention and lots of ‘stuff’, but co-incident with that, he said, was a dramatic decline in the mental health of children – 10 times worse than in the 1950’s. 

Coleman seemed sympathetic to Rosemond’s views but did say to him that some would regard those times as involving a colder, sterner, type of parenting, with ‘children seen and not heard’. Rosemond disagreed, saying that in those days children were like students in adult company, listening and learning. He was critical of mental health professionals who demonised this style of parenting. 

Coleman agreed with Rosemond’s contention that one of the most important things was bringing up children to be responsible citizens. Rosemond cited a US high school survey that found the students thought their parents were more interested in their achievements as students than in their characters. 

Rosemond said he still found parents who valued the traditional ways and left us with the idea that good parenting strengthens culture, and that parents have an obligation to the culture, not just to their kids. More of this at


And finally, another conversation, this time only fitfully interesting and frequently irritating, was on Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge, back on RTÉ One on Wednesday night when the guests included former senator Fidelma Healy Eames, journalist Eithne Shortall and comedian Al Porter. 

Religious matters surfaced a few times. Healy Eames praised Pope Francis for challenging young people to be aware of falseness in social media, to write their own reality and make their own stories. This led to a few digs from the others – Porter said the Church was pretty good at re-writing its own story, while presenter Brendan O’Connor was sarcastic – suggesting that social media will be finished after the Pope’s comments. 

Shortall said the Pope isn’t the one the young people would be listening to (has she seen any World Youth Day coverage?). O’Connor accepted that Francis was popular ‘as Popes go’, while Porter compared him favourably to Benedict XVI, but said it was like having “a better shine on an old boot”. 

The Angelus on RTÉ was discussed later, when we heard of a survey showing a majority (62%) in favour of keeping it. Healy Eames pointed out this was across all age groups. Shortall and Porter seemed iffy about it but Healy Eames, in response to anyone wanting it gone, suggested we were in danger of “throwing out everything that ever meant anything to anyone”. A timely warning. 


Pick of the week


EWTN Saturday, April 1, 10.30pm
Fr Owen Gorman talks with Fr Bede McGregor about Servant of God, Frank Duff’s intense love of the Eucharist.

RTÉ One, Sunday, April 2, 10.35pm

One Hundred Thousand Welcomes. This week’s programme examines the welcome extended to Syrian refugees in Ireland.

The Leap of Faith

RTĖ Radio 1, Friday, April 7, 10.02pm
Topical religious affairs with Michael Comyn.