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Episode 123 of 140

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So then this happened.



And with no notice at all, in the space of a single day, AA Roadwatch disappeared off our airwaves.







According to their own announcement, this was a decision made by the AA, which “decided to move away from this service and instead focus on growing other areas of [their] business”. That’s corporatespeak for closing down an unprofitable business.



I had quite a few people get in touch with me about this, mostly wondering whether I had something to do with this. If you're not familiar with my history on this, it’s pretty long-running, but in brief, the AA is a registered political lobbyist, it’s their job to persuade people, in particular politicians, to be more favourable towards the motor industry – in short, build more roads and less public transport.



They seem to have been pretty successfully. In the last few decades, while most of Europe developed sophisticated public transport, Ireland earmarked billions for motorways, often to places like Limerick and Westport that couldn’t remotely generate the amount of traffic that would justify the scale of the projects.



Public transport in Ireland is pathetic compared to most continental countries, the only major project in the last 30 years has been the Luas, and even this was ferociously resisted by the AA’s lobbying. They were central to the decision to punch the heart out of the system and make sure that the two lines didn’t initially connect, a decision that cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of euro, and commuters a decade of inconvenience.



The AA used AA Roadwatch to, day in, day out, beat the drum that the only significance of the Luas was how it caused traffic congestion.



I took several complaints that all basically said political lobbyists aren’t allowed to supply content for broadcast on RTÉ, and RTÉ used every trick in the book to defeat those complaints. Then, one Friday morning in July, they AA said that the slots were axed. It was obviously a pretty hurried decision, the staff didn’t even finish their day’s work, AA Roadwatch was broadcast normally on Friday morning, the announcement was made that day and the whole thing was shut down so fast that they didn’t even do the drivetime slots on Friday afternoon.



The south-Dublin accents, the Exposé, the reporting of a new bus corridor as though it was the siege of Mafeking, all the jokes about pronunciation of a car crash on a roundabout… I'm not going to do the accent, I'm no good at that, I'm not Mario,