The Echo Chamber Podcast, hosted by Tony Groves and Martin McMahon, brings you the voices you need to hear from the Venn Diagram of News, Politics and Culture. Always serious, yet always entertaining, we explore the issues of the day, the problems facing us in society and talk real solutions in a way you won’t hear anywhere else. Often irreverent, each episode aims to bring a unique perspective, break through the PR fog and set the record straight. This is Ireland as it is and Ireland as it can be. So join the fastest growing independent News and Politics podcast. You won’t be sorry you did. Enjoy!
Where to even begin! The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is in ICU, the Labour Party have a new leader in Keir Stamer and the UK’s Covid-19 curve is on a tragically upwards trajectory. Joining us to discuss all this and more are two friends of the pod, Dawn Foster and Glenn Fitzpatrick.
We were joined by Fin Dwyer of the Irish History Podcast to look back and see if there are lessons from history that we can take into the current Covid-19 pandemic. We talk the Spanish Flu, the rebuilding of Europe post WWII and how this crisis has seen the old rules of “market forces” just melt away.
We decided to have a short catch-up on events. It got a bit heated. We chat about the Covid-19 clusters in nursing homes and Direct Provision and how the ‘for profit’ model has left so many vulnerable. We discuss the welcome news that the Taoiseach will work one day a week in the health service and we argue a lot and loudly about how much the government really cares.
We are delighted to be joined from Australia by Cavan woman, Laura Rahill, to tell us about the experience of Covid-19 on the other side of the world. Laura explains how the diaspora wants to come home and how we are all staying connected in this locked down world.
It is a troubling time. But we chatted to one of our absolute favourite people, Saoirse McHugh, about some of the good things that could emerge from this difficult time. We discuss how the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic has sped up progress in health, housing and childcare and how we can create a vision that shows the world at large that these policies are also climate policies. These things can’t be unseen and whether it’s called a Green New Deal or pandemic preparedness, the old attitude of “sure you can’t do that” is finished. There’s no going back.
In a break from our Covid-19 coverage, writer, activist, teacher and worker with social movements, Laurence Cox, joins us in the tortoise shack to talk all things movements. We delve into their making, breaking and remaking again, and ask is there an activist playbook to counteract the hegemony.
We are joined by Tallaght University Hospital Consultant and proud Cork man, Dr Anthony O’Connor, to chat about pushing back against Covid-19. Anthony tells us about the pinch-points in the system, the huge efforts going into plugging the pre-Covid gaps and his thoughts on the use of private hospitals. He also urges people who have symptoms of heart issues or stroke to go to A & E and not put off getting medical attention for fear of coronavirus. Did we mention that he’s a proud Cork man?
We are joined in The Tortoise Shack by trade unionist, activist and loving son, Brendan Ogle. Brendan was due to do this interview last Saturday, but tragically Brendan’s Mam passed away early that same day. In an emotional interview, Brendan tells us about the hardship of a funeral during the Covid-19 pandemic and also the deep respect and love from his community and neighbours for his Mam. We also discuss the group think dominating the current news cycle, the lack of a national government and the real essential frontline workers who are keeping the country going. Our deepest respects and sympathies to Brendan and his family.
The scale of the Covid-19 pandemic is beyond anything seen in our lifetime. But we can learn from emergency responses from across the world. We are joined via Zoom by Irish man currently in Iraqi Kurdistan, Will Holden, who was in Yemen during the cholera outbreak, Iraq while ISIS rolled into power and Afghanistan when troops were withdrawing. In short, he knows a bit about keeping supply chains open and running logistic operations in the middle of a crisis.
On the 4th of March, Samantha Kelly (@tweetinggoddess) used the hashtag #selfisolation on Twitter, asking her followers to bear in mind their elderly and vulnerable neighbours and support them as they self-isolated. Helen O’Rahilly (@HelenORahilly) followed up, within minutes, with the first offer of practical help and launching the new hashtag #selfisolationhelp, intending to generate volunteers around the country, with requests to add your town, village or city to the end of the hashtag.
Cóilín Duffy joined us to tell us how this went from a hashtag to a network of over 7,600 volunteers ready to help those who need it during this time of crisis. It is a brilliant initiative and will last well beyond this Covid-19 pandemic.
Only a few short weeks ago we implored you all to Vote Left, Transfer Left. We said “Hope + Action = Change.” Turns out it’s Pandemic + Action = Change.
We discuss how seeing the old rules melt away and things like rent freezes, eviction bans and a single tier health service coming into force in a matter of hours will change the public mindset forever.
Oh, and happy birthday, Martin.
As the EU prints money at negative interest rates and our government throw insults at people who suggest that we might avail of the Apple money sitting in an escrow account, we want to talk about the workers who are facing the uncertainty of not knowing if they will be able to afford the rent or mortgage next month.
To talk about what can be done we are joined by TD Paul Murphy.
Rachel, Martin, Rory, Tony and our newest member, Caroline West, got together via Zoom this evening to talk Covid-19, Air BnB, Housing, Tinder and Caroline’s new podcast, Glow West.
We discuss the need to look after our most vulnerable and how there’s always room for some social distancing laughs.
Mind yourself and yours!
The Covid-19 crisis has seen countries close their borders and limit people going outside except for essentials. We are joined from Madrid by Professor Joe Haslam, to discuss what life is like under lockdown. Joe has traveled extensively and has studied disaster management for many years. He talks about how this is pandemic is showing up the flimsiness of a society built on the value of money, instead of the value of its people.
This is a great conversation that left me feeling more hopeful than I have in days.
What do you do when a loved one shows symptoms of coronavirus? Well MEP and friend of the pod, Luke Ming Flanagan, went public and called on governments here and across the EU to pull all the levers they can to save as many lives as possible.
We talk about the need to bring people along quickly and the necessity for actions, that would be considered draconian in normal times, be implemented now and why the response to this pandemic needs to be a bailout for people and not banks.
Stay tuned ’till the end for a plug!
Our political system is busy passing the Health Preservation & Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill, as we record, but what does this mean for us all? Senior Researcher and Policy Officer at the Irish Council for Civil Liberites, Doireann Ansbro, joins us to discuss what these new powers are, whether they are appropriate, time-limited and proportionate in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While ICCL fully accept the need for this legislation, Doireann outlines the concerns, shared by many Human Rights organisations, that such Bills can be (and are) used to limit freedoms way beyond the lifespan of the crisis that necessitated them in the first place.
Rory, accompanied by kiddies, joins us via Skype to talk about the need for the government to avoid the mistakes of the global financial crisis and make sure the priority is that we save as many possible lives as possible.
We also discuss the need for a more caring and equal society after this pandemic passes.
The Taoiseach made what many are calling the defining speech of his career last night, and while it was reassuring, we ask what meat we need to see added to the bones very quickly and who is going to pick up the cheque when this is all over.
We also go through the numbers for today and the latest developments internationally.
We understand that people are in difficult situations, but like many, we’ve hit a bad patch in terms of money coming in and your need help to keep going.
As the numbers continue to climb, the message is not to panic. Testing is ramping up and contact tracing will follow. We’re joined by Lisbon based journalist, Ewan MacKenna, to talk about the situation in Portugal and continental Europe. We talk about how archetype capitalists are converting to “we’re all in this together” socialists and the need for a wider conversation about need vs greed as part of tackling this global pandemic.
As the EU begins to takes extraordinary steps to slow the spread of Covid-19, we discuss events of the day at home and across the globe. Then we are joined by Dr Paul O’Brien, who completed his medical training in China and works as a China Policy analyst, to discuss what steps were effective in tackling the outbreak and how widespread testing, technology and contact tracing can help speed up the process of getting it under control.
This is a great listen and insight into the levers those in power need to be pulling on to slow the spread.
With the news that pubs are to close and of an additional 40 confirmed cases, we discuss where this is going and what additional steps Government and citizens can take to slow the spread.
Then we are joined by writer, commentator and friend of the pod, Dawn Foster from London to discuss the UK’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and what this means for the people in the UK and potentially for Ireland.
Today the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 seen their highest rise so far in Ireland, with 39 new cases and sadly a second person has died. While this is alarming, it is not unexpected. With a large spike in testing we will see more spikes in cases. Now is not the time to panic. No is the time to listen to the professionals, support our doctors and nurses and we all need to step up and play our part. Social distancing needs to be adopted if we are to slow the spread of the virus. We also discuss events in Spain and Italy and look at the seemingly ludicrous herd immunity tactic of the UK government.