Say what you will about “Liveline” (and I often do, with colourful language), but if it were an actual state institution, it would be regarded as one of the more effective and popular ones. It’s accessible to the public, deals with issues of current concern, reports back with answers far more speedily than any any tribunal or Oireachtas committee, and unlike the Dail or indeed any other institution, it scares the bejaysus out of the powerful. In an ideal political system, we’d merge the offices of Joe Duffy and Ombudsman together.
After all, what would the public regard as being a better use of money: Giving “Liveline” more researchers, or giving TDs more parliamentary assistants? Yes, that’s a snide question, but when was the last time you heard someone announce that they were going to call an Oireachtas committee to air an issue publicly?