Magill File November 1978 - Kevin Marron, Car Theft, Chub O'Connor

Kevin Marron - A sort of editor
It has been said that if Kevin Marron had never been born it would have been necessary to circumvent him. Which might be taken as innsulting ... except that it is the diminutive Sunday World ediitor himself who is reputed to have made the remark.
It tells a lot about the man. That he is the best "one-line" humourist in the business. A seemingly selffobsessed to the point of nearrnarcissism.

It is on his talent for the quick-fire wise-crack that the World's biggest selling points `has long been based. The selffobsession is a newer deevelopment. And one that threatens to swamp his other talent.

It reached its grotesque zenith during the summer when, on successive Sundays, Marron's piles were served up with the marmalade on a milllion of the nation's breakfast tables, his column squeezing every dripping detail from the hospitalisation which rid him of the painful affliction.

That he himself should have been closely interested in the excision of his haemorrhoids is not to be wondered at. Wouldn't we all? That he clearly did not antiicipate the populace at large regarding the subject as a diffferent sort of pain in the ass altogether suggests a very unnusual measure of egocentricity.

Other examples abound.

Such as a detailed account (June 25) of a visit to the Dublin Corporation refuse tip in Chapelizod where Marron had gone to dump plastic bags of mown grass ... A more mind-bendingly boring event I would be hard to imagine.

But: a corporation workkman spoke to him brusquely. Which resulted next Sunday in a blistering attack on the manners of "this little man."

When Corpo PRO Noel Carroll took up the cudgels on behalf of the workman, Marron kept the "controoversy" raging in his column for six weeks, until Chapelllzod became the tip-face which had launched a thoussand quips ... each at the exxpense of the hapless indiviidaul who had treated the sunnshaded World superstar like an ordinary citizen.

Having dealt out a drubbbing to the Chapelizod dump, Marron moved relentlessly on to the Dublin Airport carrpark.

Pressmen have an enviable arrangement whereby they do not pay airport parking fees if they can produce an NUJ card. On September IO Marron, having arrived from London, tried to exit without paying, although unable to prod uce his card. The attennIant insisted he pay up.

On September 17 the DunnIalk-born demi-god imploded ill over his page, ranting that "my name and face were .easonably well-known" and. contrasting the impertinence of "this red-taped genius" vith the pleasant and proper lemeanour of "a British publican" who, the previous night, had allegedly "rushed out of a restaurant in Old ·Compton Street where he had interrupted his meal to shake my hand and tell me how much he enjoyed reading Sunday World every week". A touching scene indeed.

The sheer banality of this stuff ... and there is much more one could quote ... hints that Marron's self-obsession is more than the mere posturing of a natural prima donna. Your real prima donna playyacts for bigger stakes.

Those who know him best claim that the key to Marron's behaviour is a deep sense of insecurity.

This is evident in some of his most prolific writings ... which are rarely seen by the general public. These are the internal memos which issue in profusion from the editor's office in the former Terenure laundry where the World is produced.

The definitive Marron memo followed directly on a short article in last June's Magill which mentioned in jocular fashion how a World team was going about reesearching a vice story. Beecause of an unfortunate mis-understanding about the date We story was scheduled for publication, the World men's cover was blown and the story abandoned. A regretttable incident which soured relations ... and perhaps Magill was not blameless ... but Marron's reaction borderred on the hysterical.

Copies of a four-page typed document were deeposited on the desks of all World staffers. It accused the journalists of "sheer irresponnsibility and a total lack of loyalty". Announced that "I am annoyed. And Bloody disgusted .. .If there is a repitition i of the Magill incident in the ! future and I can nail it down, I will recommend to the managing director that the 'offenders be dismissed." I Staff were urged to "keep our mouths shut, our ears open, our minds alert, and our typeewriters busy. And our legal advisers on the point of starrvation. And Vincent Browne lonely! And your editor deliiriously happy."

(Despite the implied threat about leaks, three copies of the mammoth memo arrived at the Magill office within two days.)

The irony is that the defensiveness and insecurity so apparent in Marron's memos is entirely needless. He is, after all, the most successful editor in Dublin at the moment, having hoisted World circulation to 320,000 plus, passing the longlished Sunday Independent and creeping inexorably up on the moribund Sunday Press.

And this has not been achieved only by full-colour dolly-birds and shock-horror headlines. Although, clearly, these have played a part. The World also manages to generrate more original newsial every week than either its two rivals - often more than the other two combined. And this· is largely the result of Marron giving his journalists their heads in a way no other Dublin editor would dream of, and ... sniffy tantrums about trivia apart ... standing by them when, journalisticallly, it matters. The standard press sneer at the World as an entertainment magazine" is based more on jealousy and resentment of success than on any consideration of excelllence.

As an example of his real worth, Marron has published fierce attacks on the houseebuilding methods of large construction firms ... firms which, simultaneously, were placing lucrative colour addverts with the paper for the houses involved. Those who know property ad vert ising/ journalism in Dublin will appreciate how rare that type of integrity has become.

During the darkest days of Coalition intimidation of the media Marron gave radical staffmen free rein to hammer away at security issues when every other editor in town was dodging the flak and ducking for cover. It was no accident, for example, that early last year the World was the first national paper to breach the wall of silence on conditions in Portlaoise under' Cooney.

Nor is it coincidence that, as a result of a vigorously truculent line with Governnment Information Services, the World was "blacked" a few months ago by Fianna Fail's news-manager Frank Dunlop: as definite an indiication of journalistic health as could be asked for.

In many ways Marron is the best national newspaper editor in Ireland. He should take a deep breath and jump down from his high horse. He has no need of artificial eleevation.

J. J. 0 'Molloy

Car Thefts

It's a boom time for car thieves. Ten years ago, when there were 340,000 reegistered cars on Irish roads, they were being stolen at the rate of two a day. Now, with just about twice as many veehicles to choose from, thefts average 30 a day.

The vast majority of thefts take place in or around Dubblin, with a small percentage in the provincial cities and in towns close to the Border. Weekends always mean an upp'surge in the number of takkings - an average of 50 vehiccles on each Saturday and Sunnday throughout the year. Bank Holiday weekends can push the numbers up to over sixty. There is a slight but consistent seasonal variation, with the winter average leadding the rest of the year by roughly ten cars a week.

About 85 per cent of the missing vehicles turn up withhin 48 hours, and rarely more than ten to 15 miles away

from the place of theft. Apart from broken fly windows and door locks, and ruined igniition wiring, few cars are damaged by their temporary drivers. Easily removable valuables like radios, casettes, and loudspeakers disappear in most cases, unless the car is used for another crime, in which case the contents are usually left intact.

A further ten per cent are recovered within a month, after longer journeys and often linked with major crimes. The remaining five per cent, or about 600 cars a year, vanish without trace, sold as spare parts, resprayed and altered for the seconddhand market, or sold on the Continent.

A remarkable amount of ingenuity goes into the car theft business. The Gardai have a case on file of a gentleeman who rented a car for a week and replaced the nummber plates with a pair from a similar model destroyed in an accident. Complete with the log book from the writtennoff vehicle, he sold the car for £1,500 to an unsuspecting addvertiser, stole it back the folllowing night, and returned it with the proper plates to the rental company.

There were more than 300 convictions for the larceny of motor vehicles last year. In the 1960s, hardly a dozen cases a year went through the courts.

The vast majority of car theft cases involve teenagers, usually in pairs or small gangs. The youngest offender known to the Gardai is 11 years of age, and reckoned to be an excellent driver. Those stealing cars for resale tend to be older and to work alone.

The Gardai estimate that less than ten per cent of Ireeland's private cars are fitted with an anti-theft device of some sort or other. Cars with such devices figure in less than one per cent of all thefts.

A variety of protection is available. Those in which the opening of doors, boot, or bonnet activates the horn or siren seem to be the cheappest and most popular. Rangging from about £25 to £55 including fitting, the main variiations are the loudness of the siren (the cheaper ones use electric bells or the car horn) and in the sophisticaation of the immobilisation system. All but the cheapest of these devices ensure the malfunctioning of the igniition should an enterprising criminal manage to by-pass the siren. In the most expennsive systems, the starterrmotor will actually turn ove but ignition won't take place - all to convince the thief that your battery is flat and, unless he is prepared to ask passers-by for a push, he'd better try to steal someone else's car.

Alarms operated by tremmblers, pendulums, or balance mechanisms are more exxpensive. This type of device is unpopular because of the ease with which an innocent party can activate the alarm, by bumping into or leaning against the car.

Bar-locks which link the clutch pedal to the steering-wheel, or restrict the moveement of the wheel, have gone out of fashion because of the relative ease with which a steering-wheel can be bent out of shape to disengage the lock.

If your car is stolen, you can help yourself and the police by accurately reporting type and colour, as well as reegistration, engine, and chassis numbers. Marking the chassis in some way will help with identification if your car is subsequently found with new paintwork and a different enngine. This sort of swapping of parts, from tyres to cylinderrblocks, is the commonest way of preparing stolen vehicles for resale, and sorting out the bits and pieces is a major headache for the police after recovery. A few discreet but identifiable marks could save you a lot of bother.a

Michael Fitzpatrick

Chub Provisionally for Europe

Should Chub O'Connor, the 75 year old Fianna Fail TD for South Kerry fullfill his ambition, the Euroopean Parliament to be elected next June will witness the authentic face of traditional Fianna Fail republicanism.

For Chub has announced his candidacy for the Euroopean Parliament in an interrview with Magill and in doing so has ennunciated his rnoti-

vating political beliefs: "I reevere the 1916 Proclamation and the great men of the past. My grandfather told me to hate the British ruling class because they wanted to trammple us into the ground. Their ruling class is still insincere. They have it in for us because we were the first to break from the Empire".

Commenting on the Norrthern situation he avers: "of

course 1 don't like some of. the things that are happening. However 1 can't accept that the Provisionals haven't the support of the people.' They have to have. Those of us who were involved in the civil war realise this because our campaign came to an end when the people weren't with us." He firmly believes in Briitish withdrawal, which he beelieves will lead to a new situaation in which "Catholics and Protestants can build the greatest little country in the world".

His party leader, Jack Lynch may not be too pleassed with his version of the Fianna Fail Northern policy, although it leaves comforrtable room for a manoeuvre. If so, it will hardly be the first time that Jack and Chub have clashed.

When the former Fianna Fail Government curbed the farmer's dole in the early seventies, Chub abstained in the Dail vote. A week later Lynch spoke at a party meetting in Killarney and it was annticipated that he would take advantage of the occasion to admonish Chub.

However, the wily TD got in before him. He first deeclared his allegiance to the party and then went on in an emotional speech to assert his deep commitment to the small farmers who had stood by "the men on the run". Having aligned himself with the strong republican element present 'he was invulnerable. Lynch merely called for party unity and left it at that.

While Chub's age will crea te difficulties for him in the June election, his chances of winning a European seat have to be taken seriously. He was elected to Kerry Co. Council in I 947 and in 1961 he entered the Dail. He hasn't lost an election since.

He is an assiduous constiituency worker who is spoken of locally as 'Dole' and 'Pennsion Book' O'Connor. He maintains files on all commmunications and where posiitive results are achieved the names are entered in his "favourite book". Those who are so honoured to get a perrsonal reminder at election time that they are expected to reciprocate.

His ability to predict closeely the results in Dail elections is legendary in Kerry. Last time out some commenntators forecasted that he would be displaced by Labour's Michael Moynihan. Chub was confident: '1 will get 7500 - and a bit'. And right enough, 7917 people gave him their first preferennces.

Already he is counting the votes for Europe. There will be no other Kerry candidate so he is reckoning on 40,000 No. I s in the county, and he expects substantial support in West Cork and Clare as well.

Dan Spring is reported to have told him that he should be thinking more about his rosary beads than about Eurrope. The party hierarchy may well agree with the Labour man but Chub is determined that Strasbourg should have the benefit of his wisdom and wit .•

Gerry O Shea