Pat Kenny was certainly surrendering a hostage to fortune when he contrasted the understandable public resentment over the incomes of RTÉ’s ‘star’ names and the lack of “fuss over the salaries paid to footballers like John O’Shea, earning more in three weeks than Marian Finucane earns in a year.”
The man with the most infamous garden in Ireland (apart, perhaps, from Diarmuid Gavin’s vision for Waterford’s Bishop’s Palace) is angered by the “double standard”, claiming: “These people [RTÉ presenters] put themselves on the line, they entertain the nation week in, week out, and yet they are paid a trivial amount compared to footballers.”
How, you might ask, could someone so evidently bright be so hopelessly out-of-touch? The only answer is that he believes it, such is the sheltered, entitled existence they lead in Montrose, with all their publicly-funded perks from restaurant food at Spar sandwich prices to crèches to gyms to free parking to three-month holidays, and only the Director-General knows what else.
Not that you’ll be seeing any of that exposed on ‘The Frontline’ anytime soon. Trivial? €430,000 (€570k in 2008) for Marian ‘Weekend Shift’ Finucane? Try telling that to the 450,000 people signing on and the rest being slave-driven into depression in a country that’s too slow to emphasise the IRE in its name.
Perspective isn’t something our ‘top’ public service broadcasters are good at. And it’s partly our fault. When Gerry Ryan passed away the nation went into Lady Diana mode for a month, ignoring the fact that the deceased managed to be a champion of the downtrodden while defending his three-quarters-of-a-million euro pay packet on the basis that, in advertising alone, he was worth it.
At least Ryan could have commanded a fat fee elsewhere if he didn’t get his due in Donnybrook. The same can’t be said for Pat and most of his peers, however high their opinions of themselves might be.
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