herald

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Well-feathered nests are the talk of the airwaves

> TWITTER is agog in the president's garden, where Derek Mooney's Mooneycam is following the hatching of blue tits and robins.

Mooney does this every year, and it's probably the one project that does most to entrance people with the natural world. I only wish he'd do a golden-eagle cam next year -- it might save the poor beasties from inadvertent poisoning by farmers.

This year's robins have hatched and despatched, so it's down to the blue tits, whose mama is brooding and feeding six chicks with the frantic intensity of a currency trader.

Listeners had their own nestling stories, including the tale of a jailbird in Cork Prison, where a nest appeared overnight on an electric box in the holding area. Prisoners and warders watched, fascinated, as the four eggs hatched into chicks and fledged, the mother brooding and the father flashing in and out with food and treats.

"Once the male bird was spotted returning, the prison staff and those present would stay quiet, watch as the bird walked across the yard, hop up onto the steel gate. Then a quick glance around, a short flight to the nest to feed the female and go again, all in a matter of seconds."

Even when the fire alarm went off two feet from the nest, the birds weren't fazed. "As the days went by, the nestlings had little excursions to the yard -- until they were ready to escape."

> Dublin South FM has a fabulous new show, Morning View, presented by Bryan Fox from 11am to noon. The only trouble is that DSFM -- a truly local station for Dubs, which broadcasts from Dundrum Town Centre -- won't come in on any of the radios in my house. It's at 93.5FM, just under Raidio na Gaeltachta, which seems to override it. I have to get in the car and drive if I want to hear it.

On Tuesday, Fox was talking to sociologist Dr Kieran Allen of UCD, one of the speakers at the right-to-work march at the Dail last week, and Pembroke-Rathmines Fine Gael councillor Eoghan Murphy.

I paid little attention while Allen (author of The Corporate Takeover of Ireland) talked about the world economy and the $18 trillion debt. But when he got on to the Irish scene, I sat up, going "Huh?"

"We're not far behind Greece," Fox said, after Allen's description of the horror that is the Greek economy. "Give us another six months," said Kieran.

"There are problems with capitalism," said Murphy, "but the answer isn't just to throw it away." He forecast that Irish people will revolt -- but they'll do it in the next general election. Then Allen dropped his bomb.

"The banking industry in this country borrowed approximately €150bn in 2007 -- the size of the Irish economy -- and used that to pump up the property market. Everybody knows this," he said. "But the question is: who did that? If you look at the six major banks in Ireland, there are 70 directors of these banks, 20 executive directors.

"Therefore, you can say that 20 people made these decisions."

He quoted the TASC think-tank. "If you look at interlocking directorships in Ireland, they estimate that about 40 people -- only 40 people -- have control over the levers of the main economic institutions in Ireland."

If these people are so intelligent that they get paid €1m a year, in the case of the bankers," he asked, "how could they make such a cock-up?"

Mooney Goes Wild, RTE Radio 1, weekdays Morning View, DSFM, weekdays

Promoted articles

Entertainment News