The Explainer


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Subscribers: 141
Reviews: 1

Ciarán Nestor
 May 13, 2019
Really insightful. Breaks difficult news stories down really coherantly.


The Explainer is a new weekly podcast from that takes a deeper look at one big news story you need to know about. What's the background? Why is this in the news? Get the facts behind the story from Ireland's biggest news website.

Episode Date
What are Northern Ireland’s abortion laws and how might they be changing?
Northern Ireland is going through a lot politically right now - although there is a Brexit deal, there are still a lot of questions about what life will be like for those living in the north afterwards. On top of that, there is no Stormont Assembly - and there hasn’t been for over two and a half years. There has been a little talk of direct rule. But that will all change soon, because over the summer MPs in Westminster voted for an amendment that would extend same-sex marriage and abortion to Northern Ireland unless power-sharing is restored by 21 October 2019. With that date falling in just a few days' time, for this week's podcast we wanted to ask: What does all this mean? Does the amendment have wider implications for how laws are made for NI? And how would the laws be implemented?
Oct 19, 2019
So what's actually in this new Brexit deal?
It's been some week for Brexit. On Monday, we knew one thing: that the pressure was on for a deal to be struck between the EU and the UK on Brexit. After all, there was the Benn Act which meant that should no Withdrawal Agreement be agreed on, Boris Johnson would have to approach the EU and ask for an extension (something he really, really did not want to do). Then there was the EU summit that was due to begin on Thursday, tightening the pressure further. And beyond that, the looming 31 October deadline. But still, in these Brexit days no one really knows what's going to happen. Yet when the chatter started to ramp up on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was really looking like all involved wanted things to come to a swift and positive conclusion. Downing Street was working hard; Barnier believed an agreement was still possible; Donald Tusk was hopeful; Leo Varadkar was confident. Then, on Wednesday night, we heard rumblings that an agreement was about to be struck: all that remained was getting the DUP on board for one thing. By Thursday morning, that had changed to the DUP being against the legal text. And yet, just a few hours later, we got word: the deal had been agreed. But what's in this agreement, what does it mean, and what are the next steps?
Oct 18, 2019
What is this carbon tax you have to pay - and how does it work?
Budget 2020 didn't set the world on fire - but it did contain an element that's aimed at making sure the world doesn't burn in climate change hell. That was an increase in the rate of carbon tax, by €6 a tonne (bringing the carbon tax rate up to €26 per tonne). The tax hike came into effect at midnight on Tuesday, meaning that petrol and diesel prices have now risen across the country. Meanwhile the rise in the tax for home-heating fuels will kick in from May 2020. Finance Minister Patrick Donohoe said the increase in the carbon tax will raise €90 million in 2020. But what does the carbon tax do, and how much will you end up paying? That's what we look at in this week's The Explainer podcast. Joining presenter Sinéad O'Carroll is reporter Gráinne Ní hAodha and Muireann Lynch, Research Officer at the Economic and Social Research Institute.
Oct 11, 2019
How does a US president get impeached?
There has been talk of impeaching US president Donald Trump since he was first elected back in 2016, but the wheels began to move in earnest over the past week. It all centres around a whistleblower revealing details of a call last July between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A 'favour' was requested, one which could amount to interference in the 2020 election campaign. This was enough to spark impeachment proceedings, launched by by US Democrat and speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. But what happens next?
Oct 03, 2019
Why was a Quinn Industrial Holdings director abducted?
On Tuesday 17 September, Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney was abducted on his way home. He was taken to another location where he was savagely assaulted. Lunney was then left at the side of the road in Co Cavan. Gardaí now believe that a gang led by a former IRA member with a string of convictions was behind the planning of the attack. QIH is a well-known company in Cavan - it was established in 2014 and comprises elements of businessman Sean Quinn’s former businesses. This latest attack was the most severe of a number of incidents which have targeted QIH in recent years. There have been over 70 reported incidents, including arson attacks and bullets being sent to a contractor. What has been happening with these attacks? Do investigators know why QIH is being targeted? And what do locals think about things have progressed?
Sep 26, 2019
Why is chemsex in the news in Ireland and the UK?
On this week's podcast, we look at chemsex: what is it, what accounts for its rise in popularity in Ireland, and what is its connection to the drug GHB? To find out more, we speak to the experts: Dr Kiran Santlal, registrar in psychiatry of substance misuse at the National Drug Treatment Centre (NDTC) and Graham Ryall, treatment services coordinator at the Rialto Community Drug Team. They join our reporter Órla Ryan, who has been writing about chemsex, and presenter Sinéad O'Carroll to discuss the topic.
Sep 20, 2019
Why is there so much controversy over the Public Services Card?
In 2011, the Public Services Card (PSC) was introduced in the form of a pilot scheme for some social welfare recipients. The idea was simple: Streamline the delivery of multiple services such as social welfare by confirming the user's identity on a simple card. But in recent years, it has become nothing but a headache for government. Criticism grew over the use of the card for more services than originally intended, sparking concerns it was quickly becoming a de-facto national ID card backed by a database of citizens' biometric data, accessible by dozens of agencies. It has come to a head after the Data Protection Commissioner ruled in a landmark investigation that there was no lawful basis for anyone to be required to get a PSC for anything other than social welfare payments and benefits. So where did it go wrong with the card? Was this inevitable or could it have been avoided? And why exactly is it so controversial?
Sep 13, 2019
Who is Dominic Cummings?
Dominic Cummings: Is he, as some suggest, the disruptor's disruptor - a strategically single minded and ideologically iconoclastic man? Or is he an unelected foul mouthed liability who has no place at the heart of a conservative Downing Street? On this week's episode of, we look at Boris Johnson's special adviser and his career. To help make some sense of Cummings and his very important and strategic role, presenter Sinéad O'Carroll is joined in studio by our Brexit reporter Grainne Ni Aodha, and Dr Kevin Cunningham, TU Dublin politics lecturer. We also chat to Tom Chivers, science writer and journalist, to get his thoughts on what makes Cummings tick.
Sep 06, 2019
Why are we being told to eat less meat?
In this week's episode of The Explainer, we look at the issues around climate change, meat eating and farming in Ireland. Reporter Cormac Fitzgerald, who has written our week-long climate change series this week, gives the latest updates on the three major reports which recommend people cut down on meat. Meanwhile, Dr Jesus Frias, Academic Leader Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute (ESHI) at TU Dublin, tells us more about meat, health and food trends. And journalist and beef farmer Darragh McCullough gives us the farmer's perspective.
Aug 30, 2019
How does Ireland deal with sex offenders after prison?
Tom Humphries was known as one of Ireland’s finest sports writers when he was accused of grooming and the defilement of a child. He was released last week after spending 22 months in Midlands Prison. Cases like the Tom Humphries case can be an opportunity to focus the national conversation on the more difficult aspects of the justice system. It’s an incredibly complex policy area that is fraught with emotion – not just on the part of victims and their families. Humphries’ release also comes against a background of a number of vigilante attacks on other convicted sex offenders in Dublin. So how does a country deal with all of the facts and emotions around such a topic? To explain to us what currently is done in Ireland with sex offenders after their release from prison, host Sinéad O’Carroll is joined in studio by reporter Michelle Hennessy, Eileen Finnegan, clinical director of One In Four, creator of the Phoenix programme for offender treatment/intervention and Fíona Ní Chinnéide, executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.
Aug 23, 2019
How are we still making discoveries at Newgrange?
Newgrange is one of Ireland's most incredible sites - but despite it and the surrounding Brú na Bóinne complex being an area of intense historical interest, and having been studied now for hundreds of years, it is still revealing more and more discoveries. Just last week, a team of archaeologists lead by UCD's Dr Steve Davis uncovered around 40 previous unknown sites of interest. In this week's episode of The Explainer, presenter Sineád O'Carroll is joined in studio by editor of Archaeology Ireland Dr Sharon Greene, Dr Jessica Smyth of UCD's School of Archaeology, and's editor Susan Daly to examine why, including the new techniques that have led to recent discoveries and the roadblocks that archaeologists face when they want to examine a site in-depth.
Aug 16, 2019
What is the Irish backstop?
'The backstop' is one of the most contentious parts of the Brexit agreement. But it's also something that can fall foul of bad explanations, misunderstandings, and being used as a political football. This week on The Explainer podcast, we're taking a good and proper look at the Backstop. What is it? Why is it so controversial? Is everything that's being said about it true? To help guide us through the conversation, joining host Sinéad O'Carroll in studio is reporter Gráinne Ní Aodha and Euronews reporter Shona Murray.
Aug 08, 2019
What is Fortnite and how can people make money from it?
Whether you are a gamer or not, you'll most definitely have heard of the game Fortnite. Earlier this week, the hugely popular game hit the headlines after an Irish teenager picked up $50,000 while competing in the Fortnite World Cup. Joshua Juliano, who is just 17, came 58th out of 100 gamers. So what is Fortnite? Well for starters, it's an online first-person shooter game that involves dropping 100 players on to an island where they have to find weapons, build bases and try to eliminate the competition until only one player is left standing. It's hugely popular and a big revenue driver for its creators. In this week's podcast, our reporter Órla Dwyer explains what the game is, while tech reporter Quinton O'Reilly talks us through why it's so popular, and the concerns that some parents and people have about it.
Aug 02, 2019
Can people applying for citizenship spend a day outside Ireland?
Last week, a shock ruling saw an Irish judge rule that citizenship cannot be granted to an applicant if they have spent a day outside Ireland in the past year. But how did this come about - and can it be appealed? And does it really mean what it seems to? That's what we're discussing in this week's The Explainer podcast. Reporter Dominic McGrath talks us through everything you need to know about what this ruling says and how it came about. David Kenny, Assistant Professor in Law at Trinity College Dublin, explains the ruling's impact, and what could happen next.
Jul 26, 2019
Why was there such controversy over Lizzo’s ticket sales?
When tickets for US singer Lizzo's debut Irish show at the Olympia this coming November went on sale last week, people knew there would be demand. But there were questions raised when fans found it difficult to get their hands on tickets via the Ticketmaster website, and when, hours later, 'Platinum tickets' went on sale for €140 each. In addition, resold tickets were immediately on offer as soon as the original tickets went on sale. Some asked: Did a presale earlier in the week have a major impact on what tickets were available? This week, we look at what this situation tells us about ticket selling in Ireland. Do the issues stem from the ticket-selling company, or is Ticketmaster being used as the focus of people's ire when there are more systemic issues to blame? What are Platinum tickets and what sales model do they follow? And what's happening with the legislation being planned to fight back against ticket reselling at inflated prices? Joining presenter Sinéad O'Carroll in studio this week, our assistant news editor and podcast producer Aoife Barry outlines what went on when Lizzo tickets went on sale. Fine Gael TD Noel Rock explains what stage his and Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly's legislation on ticket reselling is at, and music guru and RTÉ Brainstorm editor Jim Carroll talks us through the world of ticket sales.
Jul 19, 2019
Why are your insurance premiums increasing by so much?
It's not every day that a video of a politician talking about insurance at an Oireachtas committee goes viral. You've likely seen the clip of Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty grilling insurance company bosses - if not, you can watch it here. Its virality has prompted more people to look at their insurance premiums and ask: Why do they keep going up, and up, and up? Many are feeling the pinch, with several summer festivals under threat due to the large sums of money now required to cover public liability insurance. This is at a time when the insurance industry is recording profits of more than 1,300% and is blaming fraud for the increase, something which Doherty's contribution at the committee disputed. But what exactly is going on? That's what we examine in this week's podcast as Sinéad O'Carroll is joined in studio by reporter Orla Dwyer to discuss her FactCheck looking at the rate of fraudulent claims in Ireland, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform who talks us through the complications in how a claim is processed, and Pearse Doherty, who speaks more about his questioning of insurance chiefs while also examining the finer points of insurance industry in Ireland - and what can be done to fix it.
Jul 14, 2019
What's behind the Drogheda feud?
On 5 July last year, Owen Maguire was shot four times in Drogheda, Co Louth. This is seen as the start of a feud between two gangs in the town. By November the situation began to boil over with a range violent attacks taking place. Locals are becoming increasingly fed up of the feud, and efforts are now underway to bring it to an end. Gardaí have stepped up armed patrols, and the town is eager to make next month's Fleadh Cheoil pass without a hitch. However, ending a cycle of violence like this isn't easy, and often requires a community-wide approach. In this week's podcast, reporter Garreth MacNamee and Ged Nash, a Labour senator who has represented Louth for two decades, join Nicky Ryan in studio to examine the origins of the feud, the scale of the violence so far and the impact on the local population, but also how gardaí and the community can take action to prevent the situation spiraling.
Jul 05, 2019
How Patrick Nevin was found guilty in the 'Tinder rape case'
On Monday, Patrick Nevin was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had been found guilty of attacking two women in the space of 11 days, after meeting them on Tinder. He was found guilty of raping one of the women, and sexually assaulting the other. For the rape, he was given a 14-year sentence, with two suspended on a number of conditions. For sexual assault he was sentenced to eight years, which will run concurrently. Nevin is currently in prison on another term for sexually assaulting another woman who met in similar circumstances to the above women - on Tinder. The courts heard that in all of the attacks Nevin would convince the women to meet him for a drive and he would pick them up at their home in a blue BMW. The court heard the women were fearful after the attack because Nevin knew where they lived. In this week's podcast, we talk Declan Brennan, managing editor of court reporting service CCC Nuacht, who was present when Nevin sat trial, and Noeline Blackwell, the CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
Jun 27, 2019
The Explainer: The story of the Ana Kriegel trial
Note - some of the details in this podcast might be upsetting to listeners. On 14 May 2018, teenager Ana Kriegel went out for a walk with a boy now known as Boy B. Hours later, when she had not returned home, her parents reported her missing to the gardaí. What began as a missing teenager case turned into a murder case when Ana's body was discovered in a derelict house three days later. Two boys - Boy A and Boy B - were arrested in connection with her disappearance. On Tuesday of this week, Boy A and Boy B were found guilty of the schoolgirl's murder. Boy A was also found guilty of aggravated sexual assault. The jury reached the verdict after over 14 hours of deliberating. The case was an unprecedented one, and an upsetting one. Ana Kriegel's family were present in court for every day of the trial. Journalists who reported from the trial described it as one of the toughest jobs of their careers. reporter Garreth MacNamee was present in court throughout the trial. On this week's episode of The Explainer podcast, he speaks to Christine Bohan (stepping in for Sinéad O'Carroll) about the details of the trial, what we know about Boy A and Boy B, and about the tributes paid to Ana Kriegel.
Jun 21, 2019
How did a woman who died in Direct Provision come to be buried without ceremony?
Last month, a woman who died in Direct Provision was quietly buried by the State without ceremony. Sylva Tukula, originally from South Africa, died in August 2018. All efforts by gardaí to find her next of kin, a process with included with assistance of Interpol, had been exhausted. Friends and colleagues of Tukula had previously been told they would be notified of arrangements for her burial. This did not happen. In this week's episode of The Explainer, we examine the chain of events that led to this situation. We're joined in studio by reporter Cónal Thomas, who broke many details of the story surrounding Tukula's death last week, and Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, to discuss the timeline leading to the burial, the current scale of the Direct Provision system in Ireland, as well as how deaths are currently recorded in Direct Provision.
Jun 16, 2019
Why was there controversy over Katie Taylor's recent win?
Katie Taylor was crowned undisputed lightweight champion on Sunday. But almost immediately, there was controversy. In this week's The Explainer, we're joined by's Gavin Casey to talk us through what happened. He was ringside on the night and wrote the definitive examination of the aftermath of the win for Joining him in studio is presenter Sinéad O'Carroll, who also interviews longtime boxing US-based promoter Lou DiBella about the boxing world, Katie's win, and how judging works.
Jun 07, 2019
How have the Healy Raes never lost an election?
The Healy Raes are a clan to be reckoned with. The Co Kerry family has not one one but two TDs in it, and recently saw three more family members elected to Kerry County Council. The family political dynasty was kicked off by patriarch Jackie Healy Rae, who after many years working with Fianna Fáil went independent and got elected to the Dáil in 1997. But why are they so popular, and what makes them so beloved in Co Kerry? That's what we're looking at in this week's episode of The Explainer. Presenter Sinéad O'Carroll is joined by reporter Rónan Duffy, columnist and former Irish Independent editor Gerry O'Regan, and author Donal Hickey to discuss what makes the Healy Raes so successful. Image: / Palash Somani
May 31, 2019
What's the story with an EU army?
Irish MEPs have recently been raising concerns about a future 'EU army'. While this isn't surprising, given the issue of Irish neutrality and the EU, it is a topic that garners strong opinions. Added into this is the issue of Pesco, – the EU’s permanent structured cooperation arrangement that 25 states have signed up to. Ireland's one of those countries. But what is Pesco, why do some people criticise it, and what does it mean for our defence forces? We looked at the subject of an EU army and Pesco for this week's edition of The Explainer podcast. Joining presenter Sinéad O'Carroll in studio is reporter Rónán Duffy and former Irish soldier, defence analyst and author.
May 24, 2019
Why are so many US states tightening abortion laws right now?
Last week, a restrictive abortion law was signed in the US state of Georgia which banned terminations after six weeks gestation. This week, another state followed suit: Alabama's governor signed a law on Thursday which banned abortions in nearly all cases. With a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives and a pro-life president, this type of shift in abortion legislation in the US had been expected for some time - so what happens now? In this week's episode of The Explainer,'s Aoife Barry and Christine Bohan, with contributions from NUIG law lecturer Larry Donnelly, look at the legislation which has been introduced in Alabama and Georgia and examine what the next steps might be. Why do supporters of the bills want them challenged? Could a bill end up in the Supreme Court and potentially lead to an overturning of Roe vs Wade? And could Trump simply ban all terminations across America?
May 16, 2019
How did Patrick Quirke get convicted of the murder of Bobby Ryan?
On 1 May, the longest-running murder trial in the state's history came to an end when Tipperary farmer Patrick Quirke was found guilty of the murder of Bobby Ryan. A jury of 12 people found Quirke guilty of the murder of Ryan – known by locals in Tipperary as DJ ‘Mr Moonlight’ - by a majority verdict of 10 to 2. Quirke had pleaded not guilty but was sentenced to life in prison after the 13-week trial. Details of the DJ’s life, circumstances surrounding his death, as well as an affair involving the two men and Mary Lowry, were laid out in the court room. In this week's episode of The Explainer, we look at Patrick Quirke's conviction: what evidence did the jury hear? What do we mean by 'circumstantial evidence' and how big a role did that play in the case? How usual is it to have a majority verdict in a murder trial? To help us answer those questions, host Sinéad O'Carroll speaks to our reporter Gráinne Ní Aodha and barrister-at-law Marc Murphy.
May 13, 2019
Can Ireland grow its own medicinal cannabis?
2019 will likely be the year when it becomes significantly easier for patients to access medicinal cannabis in Ireland. The government has found a supplier, and Minister for Health Simon Harris is due to bring his plans for a cannabis access scheme to cabinet. Currently it is only available to a small number of patients. This will make it significantly less of a grey area in Irish law - and it could also herald the start of the Irish cannabis industry. In this week's episode of The Explainer, we're examining whether Ireland will be able to grow its own medicinal cannabis.'s Political Correspondent Christina Finn examines the legal hurdles the government would still face, with Minister Simon Harris explaining where they currently stand on the issue and how he's open to 'Ireland Inc' taking control of its own supply. We also speak with the CEO of Cannabis Danmark Rikke Jakobsen to look at how the industry was set up in Denmark.
May 07, 2019
How will the UK’s new porn blocking law work?
Imagine popping down to your local newsagents with this shopping list: Bread, milk, eggs, Lotto quick pick, an official government porn pass. That's the situation anyone living in the United Kingdom could face from July if they want to view pornography online, when the British government brings in radical new laws. Websites which primarily host porn will be required to carry out age-verification checks to ensure anyone visiting the site is over 18 years old. It's a world first. Because of that, it's not clear how it will be implemented or if it will even be effective in preventing children from accessing pornography. In this week's episode of The Explainer, Caroline West, a doctoral scholar in sexuality at DCU, and's Senior Reporter Michelle Hennessy join us in studio to examine all aspects of the new law, from privacy concerns if age verification is carried out online, the impact accessing pornography has on children under-18, the question over whether certain sexual acts are banned under the legislation, and whether Ireland is considering following the UK's lead on this.
Apr 29, 2019
Why haven't any supervised drug injection centres opened in Ireland?
Back in 2015, the then-government announced that the first supervised drug injection centre in the country would open within two years. The centres - known as medically supervised injecting facilities (MSIFs) - provide drug addicts with a safer, sterile environment in which to inject heroin, cocaine or others drugs under the supervision of a medical professional. Users source their own drugs and inject themselves in booths in the centre It's more than four years since that announcement was made. It was included in the Programme for Government, the enabling legislation was passed - and yet the first centre still hasn't opened, currently stuck in planning permission limbo. Why has it taken this long? In this episode of The Explainer,'s Cormac Fitzgerald and Christine Bohan delve into the current situation around supervised drug injection centres in Ireland, how Irish politicians have lagged behind on drug policy, the concerns expressed around opening the pilot scheme in Dublin city centre, as well as the facts behind their effectiveness.
Apr 23, 2019
What exactly happened with Brexit on Wednesday night?
On Wednesday night, the latest stage of the Brexit saga began: The Flextension. The United Kingdom and European Union agreed a flexible Brexit extension until 31 October following marathon talks in Brussels. This now gives UK prime minister Theresa May extra wiggle room to get her Brexit deal over the line - but we've already been hearing about this for more than two years, and for many people, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. In this episode of The Explainer, presenter Sinéad O'Carroll is joined by's Gráinne Ní Aodha and Christine Bohan as well as executive director of European Movement Ireland Noelle O'Connell to look at exactly what is happening with Brexit now, and what it means for Ireland and the upcoming European elections.
Apr 11, 2019
Why is John Delaney in the news so much right now?
He's not a professional sports person, but John Delaney is one of the most well-known names in Irish sport. The longtime head of the Football Association of Ireland - the FAI - followed in the footsteps of his father Joe to get involved in the organisation. He held the role treasurer of the FAI before moving on to become its chief executive. However, earlier this month he moved from the role to become executive vice-president of the FAI. Around the same time, Delaney became the focus of a number of news articles. In the latest episode of The Explainer, we look at the media attention around John Delaney, alongside his achievements in the FAI, how he rose to power within the organisation, and his appearance before an Oireachtas committee next week.
Apr 07, 2019
Is Ireland getting rid of Daylight Savings Time?
Daylight Savings Time has been a fixture in Ireland for as long as most of us can remember, but MEPs recently voted to scrap it - and Ireland has 12 months to say if it will follow suit. That's what we look at in this week's episode of The Explainer, where we dive into why this is happening, the history of daylight savings in Ireland (including why Dublin Mean Time isn't a thing any more), and whether Ireland will be getting longer, brighter evenings or mornings...
Mar 31, 2019
What can the Irish government do about returning Islamic State members?
In the episode, we look at the case of Irish Islamic State member Lisa Smith, who is Irish and was married to an Islamic State member. We examine the current state of play regarding Islamic State in Syria, why its members are leaving the country, and what Ireland's options are for returning citizens.
Mar 24, 2019
Why has there been a 208% rise in measles cases in Ireland?
Measles is on the rise in Ireland. We examine the latest outbreaks and discuss how linked it is to wider anti-vaccination trends.
Mar 17, 2019
How will Brexit affect the food that you buy?
In the week where the major decisions will be made about what Brexit will look like, looks at your shopping basket to see what will happen to prices and supply in Ireland after 29th March
Mar 10, 2019