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Irish Days

I heard part of a radio documentary from the Irish state broadcaster RTE recently. Most of its documentary output is little better than an hour along the lines of "Cork Man Saw photo of Hitler in 1935 edition of Daily Mirror" and stretches the subject matter way beyond how far it can be stretched. And let's not forget the sequel Limerick Man Once Met Cork Man Who Saw photo of Hitler in 1935 Daily Mirror. The half- decent documentary I'm referring to is one of the half dozen or so I've heard in the last decade that demonstrated even competent journalism. It was about fellahs from the Irish Republic serving in Afghanistan with the Royal Irish Regiment. Contrary to what the Australian Broadcasting Corporation declared when it rebroadcast the programme, the regiment is not exclusively recruited in the Irish Republic, far from it. But since 1922 when the Free State was created, everyone from the island has been able to serve in the British armed forces. Lads from Northern Ireland have been equally welcome to serve in the Irish Defence Force. I remember meeting a crowd of them on home leave in Northern Ireland. They held the IRA in complete contempt. But then the IRA was the main threat to their lives in the early 1980s. Every security van in The Republic needed a army escort and a carload of detectives as escort to foil the IRA's fundraising hold- ups.

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