Tubridy scandal reveals Ireland’s culture of self-indulgence

Tubridy scandal reveals Ireland’s culture of self-indulgence

AS if like an echo, Ireland is having its Philip Schofield moment.

A much-loved national presenter is suddenly in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Ryan Tubridy, late of The Late Late Show, may soon be late of RTÉ.

Tubridy, it has been revealed, has been getting a lot more money than RTÉ led us to believe.

Not only that but it has been taking place against a cash crisis for our national broadcaster that has seen people lose jobs or people, on far less money than Tubridy, take substantial pay cuts.

It is not a good look for a man who styled himself as the nation’s comfortable friend: empathetic, fun, oddly innocent. It is difficult to see how he comes back from this.

I’m not a fan of Tubridy’s. I very much tend to turn off the radio when his show starts and I still remember his obvious loathing when he interviewed the Socialist TD Paul Murphy on the Late, Late.

Not my cup of tea. Indeed I’ve always found it peculiar that Ireland’s media darling is a caricature of a pleasant English public schoolboy.

But in all honesty I have no particularly strong feelings about him. RTÉ’s highest earner is just another celebrity.

But I’m really struggling to see here what it is he is supposed to be so guilty of. I’m really struggling to see why he warrants so many people turning so much against him.

Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times, whose writing I do admire, has written that Tubridy should not be allowed back on RTÉ such is the scope of his betrayal.

Now a lot of the vitriol heading his way is simply because we live in a social media world and that world does not deal in subtlety or nuance.

It’s easier just to take sides and if there aren’t sides to invent them. God forbid somebody might say this is complicated and I’ll have to think about it when they can just say I’m team so-and-so.

Ryan Tubridy was being paid an exorbitant amount of money. With or without the amounts no one knew about.

You could argue that the amount he was getting, a TV and radio broadcaster, was obscene. And that is the point.

The point is not Ryan Tubridy. Isn’t Tubridy, after all, simply doing what he is supposed to do in a culture that embraces unbridled market economics?

Isn’t he simply maximising himself as he is supposed to do? Isn’t he simply being the best version of himself?

If we diminish this into being about an individual we miss the much more important point.

We have allowed into our society the prime principle that you get the best you can for yourself. Not for your community, not for your society, not for your neighbourhood. For you.

Ryan Tubridy is simply an embodiment of an Irish system.

After all we had great hay in making out that Bertie Ahern’s financial shenanigans were about Bertie rather than about the way Ireland did business.

Ryan Tubridy’s financial shenanigans are about how we are supposed to behave in our society far more than they are about the failings of Ryan Tubridy.

Ryan Tubridy’s greed is an Irish social greed. When we join in the pile on against Tubridy we are avoiding the issue. We are letting ourselves off the hook.

Of course what this also does is give ready ammunition to those who wish to undermine the whole notion of a public broadcaster. If the pandemic taught us anything it taught us about the importance of a State broadcaster.

I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough for the rest of my days of people who got their information from any number of ridiculous sources and lacked the basic nous to tell fact from ludicrous lie.

We need public broadcasters because we need, trusted, reliable sources of information.

Yes, RTÉ, like the BBC, is stuffy and conservative and a little dull but it is based on a public service remit and the importance of that cannot be underestimated.

Without RTÉ, or the BBC, we are adrift in a world of GB News type stations and in all honesty that can’t be the answer to anything.

Ryan Tubridy? I’m not and never have been a fan. But aside from not wanting to kick a man when he’s down I also just can’t see how the Ryan Tubridy scandal is simply about Ryan Tubridy.

It’s about far more than that.