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Why do TDs need to travel to Britain?

I’ve decided I’m not going back to Ireland anymore. Spending time with my family, seeing my friends, the day of being there in person is gone.

Part of it is the expense. More of it is common sense. I’m not very organised so I always seem to end up paying more for my flights than anyone else. Then there’s my holiday days, why should I use them all visiting Ireland when I could be topping up on vitamin D in the Algarve?

But thanks to technology and the digital age: Skype, Email, Facebook and Viber, I don’t need to go anywhere to see anyone anymore. I can look into people’s world through the flat screen of my laptop, I can click the hang-up button when I’ve seen and heard enough.

Digital interaction is already progressing so fast that romantics in faraway nations like Brazil and Russia are tying the knot via fiber-optic-cable and somehow consummating their relationships by the same means!

It’s dramatically changing communications between Ireland and Britain and soon this digital gig is going to hold Governments to account the way real people used to do.

On a recent visit to London, the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore said digital technology was an able replacement for journalism’s personal touch. He was of course talking about the closure of RTE’s London bureau in September.

Funny that, because it seems like every other week there’s a different Irish Minister in Britain applying theirown personal touch to some meeting, opening or event. But why?

If what the Tánaiste says is true, these meetings can be completed via Internet link-ups, even the old telephone? What could be so important to require our TDs to visit the British capital on regular to-and-fros? Especially now we are great friends and all.

I want Downing Street Declarations by Skype. Trade talks via the chat room of Facebook. Ministers checking in with William Hague on all things foreign affairs by text message, over coffee, from the  canteen in Leinster House.

I want the Government to do their personal business from the comfort of their own offices. They no longer need to deal with the inconvenience of leaving their own country. And if anybody asks why (nobody will) they can just tell them it’s part of the programme, you know, the digital programme.

Maybe I’m missing something or maybe I’m just pissed off because the integrity of my profession is being reduced by technology, not enhanced. The Government is complicit because they reckon journalism can be pooled in the interest of national importance. They’re wrong.

Mainstream Media is relying less on the efforts of people on the ground which means the future of reporting is moving fast towards a landscape less verifiable, more flimsy, less accountable.

But if the Government’s on-the-record position states that it’s possible to do things better digitally, then I expect to see Ministers in London less and less, while doing their business via the Net more and more.

Only I know they won’t. Despite Ireland and Britain being best buddies, they’ll still find lots of reason to travel and ignore their own wisdom by doing so.

To hell with it, if they’re not going to stay put then I’m not going to bother either because everyone knows you can’t smell someone on Skype. It’s just that sometimes, the smell of something else gets in the way.

 

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Old Vic MPU

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