Some stats are just too inconvenient to ponder

Some stats are just too inconvenient to ponder A scene from the musical Hamilton which featured on Disney+ last week.

There was some low level controversy in the media late last week relating to the death toll due to Covid-19 – was it 1,700 or was it 1,200? Important to get the facts right of course, at the same time a much higher death toll barely caused a ripple – the 6,666 unborn babies  who died in 2019 under our new abortion regime. It was a scary number in more ways than one.

There was just a little coverage last Tuesday when the figures were released.  Senator Ivana Bacik debated the matter with Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD on The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk) that evening.  Tóibín stressed how devastating these figures were for human rights campaigners – no matter what way you took the figures they represented around a 40% increase – 2,000 extra deaths, 2,000 people missing because of the legislation.

Most of the debate, he said, was about the difficult cases, but these were only a tiny proportion of the abortions carried out.  Most of the abortions were done for socio-economic reasons and yet the Government he reckoned was not doing anything about these factors, expending no energies into lifting women out of poverty – instead, the Government response was to allow lives to be ended.

Bacik seemed inclined to deflect from a concentration on the drastic figures. She thought “haranguing” about the figures was insensitive to women (actually Tóibín was a model of calm and courtesy as usual).  And she thought the legislation should be even less restrictive, e.g. finding fault with the waiting period.

Soon after, the 6pm News on Newstalk highlighted Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty also wanting more liberalisation. He was concerned for the “pregnant person”, thought the “serious harm” threshold was too high, and was concerned about “lack of access in case severe non-fatal and foetal impairment diagnosis”. Now that was really scary.

Strangely I couldn’t find any coverage of the issue on that evening’s Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1) apart from a brief report on the news headlines. Nor could I find coverage the following day on RTÉ’s news and current affairs shows. I thought there surely would be something on the Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk) next morning, but couldn’t find anything there either although Kenny’s show covered the issue intensively in the lead up to the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Ciara Kelly was also quite exercised about the issue at referendum time and frequently covers the latest medical issues but I didn’t hear a word about it on her Lunchtime Live (Newstalk) show that day either. So, nothing to see here? A death toll of around 7,000 human beings not worth some discussion?


Speaking of discrimination, last Friday Disney+ launched a filmed version of a 2016 production of the stage musical Hamilton, a strikingly modern take on the politics surrounding the early days of the USA. Themes of power, politics, corruption, race, betrayal and forgiveness blended seamlessly – universal themes with a distinct resonance for modern times.

Obviously it’s not as good as being present in the theatre, but with as big a screen and as sound as I could muster it became immersive as I was drawn into the unpredictable story (I confess I didn’t know the detailed history very well). The plot, music and lyrics were excellent – and all written by the multi-talented Lin-Manuel Miranda who also excelled in the leading role as politician Alexander Hamilton.

Between the fluid camera work and the revolving stage areas there was a kinetic energy about the whole thing as musical genres varied between rap, hip-hop and big Broadway-style numbers. Though on Disney (no guarantee of wholesome family entertainment anymore, alas) there were a few profanities and some crude dialogue at times, but on the whole it packed a powerful punch, and held the attention for over two-and-a-half hours – I liked the ‘intermission’!

Finally I note the arrival of a new UK radio station Times Radio – accessible through a phone and tablet app, internet radio and website. I listened to it intermittently for now and reckon it will give LBC and BBC Radio 4 a run for their money in the talk radio landscape. Among the presenters are Michael Portillo and also journalists Stig Abel and Jenny Kleeman, both now bumped off their Press Preview stints on Sky News, apparently because of perceived conflict of interest. Sky’s loss, and now they have a wider audience.


Pick of the Week
Where God Weeps
EWTN, Sunday, July 12, 9.30am

Exploring the situation of Catholics in Nigeria, with Boko Haram terror and little to no recourse for justice or protection.

National Day of Commemoration
RTÉ1, Sunday, July 12, 11am

Live coverage from Collins Barracks in Dublin of the annual military ceremony and multi-faith service.

Film: Kateri
EWTN, Sunday, July 12, 9pm

After witnessing the atrocities of war, a young, orphaned Mohawk girl embarks on a fervent journey of faith as a Catholic missionary for her people.