herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Aung San's 15 years in captivity beats 15 minutes of Mayor Slow...

YOU have to feel sorry for Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader who visited Dublin not just to be conferred by Amnesty International, but also to finally collect her Freedom of the City award, conferred in her absence 12 years ago.

Which meant that this inspiring woman, who has spent 14 of the past 25 years under house arrest in her native country, had to endure further, untold suffering.

She had to share a podium with Mayor Andrew Montague.

With the ceremony being covered live by RTE's Nine News, the station faced the tricky task of catching Ms Suu Kyi's speech.

Tricky because they first had to deal with Mayor Slow who, not happy with trying to slow cars down to a standstill in Dublin, dragged the event out by unwittingly hijacking proceedings at Grand Canal Plaza, or so it appeared.

You could almost feel the frustration as RTE went live, to be confronted by Andrew's ruddy features and absurd chain of office. "Let's hear it for Bono, Adam, Larry and the Edge... let's hear it for U2" he bellowed, like he was introducing Family Fortunes contestants.

A name-checking of various councillors past and present followed and, with the words, "I want to tell you about one of our great Irish heroes, Daniel O'Connell... He was born into a country..." the producer cut back to the studio, with Eileen Dunne intoning the words, "hopefully we'll return and hear Aung San Suu Kyi speak herself." You could almost hear a plaintive tone in the word "hopefully".

Which was, of course, wishful thinking, because they returned 10 minutes later to be greeted by the words, "We're delighted now to present some gifts to our visitor."

The announcer paused, then continued.

"The Lord Major firstly...", and with that, RTE cut back again to Eileen Dunne saying "and we'll leave it there once again..."

Coming back after the break, Anthony Murnane, at the Grand Canal Plaza, revealed that Ms Suu Kyi had just been on stage and, with great emphasis, revealed that "earlier, she had a few brief words for the audience," emphasising "brief".

And in that 30-second speech, she gave a lesson in public speaking and brevity, that a certain Lord Mayor could do with heeding.

Aung Sang had 15 years of misery in her Burmese house arrest. We had 15 minutes of Andrew Montague this week, but do you know what? We know exactly how she felt...

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