Talking on the radio about Our Jacob

I was asked to speak on The John Murray Show on RTE 1, Ireland’s largest national station. He was very nice to talk to, and on the back of some very positive coverage that Down syndrome has received here recently, the entire piece was very warm and engaging.

Therein lies the problem for me. I had an opportunity to raise one or two critical points about services, about how important funding is now, and I got caught up in the cosiness of talking about how wonderful Jacob is. That in itself is not wrong, and I don’t for a second criticise the very nice people at The John Murray Show, but I am kicking myself now.

We're not walking yet, but we can get there

Here’s what I did say.

Talking on the national airwaves about Our Jacob

Here’s what I didn’t say.

Our backs are against the wall. The economy has never been in a more precarious state. Unemployment is ludicrously high and emigration has swiftly and devastatingly replaced immigration. The Church, for so long an incredibly powerful presence in the lives of ordinary Irish people, has been neutered and is not even on the radar of many young families. We are spiritually lost, economically bereft and lacking in leadership we can trust. We are in the shit.

The stuff is gone. The swagger has turned to a shuffle. Now is the moment we find out who we are. And if we are anything decent, anything that our trusting, hard-working parents and grandparents would have wished us to be, we will hold fast to what is important. We will make sure that nobody is left behind. We will give to those who need it most. This is a rich country, alive with ambition and intelligence. It is our choice whether we use those gifts for the pursuit of selfish gain, as we’ve gotten used to, or something more fundamental. We are, for the most part, and with some notable exceptions, all in it together. If we allow others to foist ill-thought-out strategies on us just to ensure that some bond holders, who do not care a whit for people, can take the skin off our backs then we are complicit in our own destruction. If we allow health cuts to sacrifice a single one of our weaker members then we are complicit in our own destruction. If we do not fight, haggle and scream about how important these, the weakest, are to our own essence as creatures capable of having a conscience, then we are complicit in our own destruction. Self interest over the last 15 years has guided us straight to hell. We could argue for several years about our accepting herd mentality in Ireland, but it would only serve one purpose: to stop us from actually doing anything. Winter is here and we no longer have that option.

That’s what I didn’t say. It’s not a plea for Jacob. It’s a plea for everyone who is different. And no matter how in the middle of the middle you consider yourself to be, you’re different too. Now that I’ve written it I’m kicking myself all the more.

Honest to God. That's the international banking quarter, Oct 2010

29 comments on “Talking on the radio about Our Jacob

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick McGivney, lisamareedom, Morgan C.Jones, Pat McArdle, Tim Nelligan and others. Tim Nelligan said: RT @nmcgivney: Talking on the radio about Our Jacob: […]

  2. Sharon says:

    Wow Nick I wish you’d have been able to say all that! Powerful and true.

    I’m listening to your interview now and what you did get to say is very good. Well done sir.

    • Nick McGivney says:

      Thanks for saying so, Sharon. It wasn’t the place for angry mojo, but I should’ve brought some of it anyway. It’s important.

  3. Superb articulate emotive. Keep on railing. Every thinking, compassionate person is right behind you – in the UK as well as Ireland. Don’t beat yourself up over what wasn’t said. Title of the blog always comes first and that will have touched many lives too.

  4. The interview was great, don’t be too hard on yourself. YOu reached a lot more people being a proud dad than you would have focusing on the funding issues. And you did get some great points in there about the services having to scrounge etc. I do love your “I wish I said this” speech, though. I would love to repost that – or perhaps link to this.

  5. Elbog says:

    I think you have to trust your instincts, and your marketing (and parental) instincts served you well in this interview. I stopped counting the number of times that the interviewer asked you a question that you’d answered in the previous statement – this was all about “softball”, and you were gracious and emotive and hit the points that the interview was about. It was an opportunity well-served, and your voice has been both heard and amplified for those listening who will come here for more info as well as to know Jacob better. Jacob will be (if he isn’t already) his best advocate, Dad. “Our Jacob” means that he’s Ireland’s Jacob; he’s my Jacob, too – if that’s alright.
    Keep kickin those horses’ asses.

  6. Nan P says:

    From my (very small, e.g. once off ) experience of live interview, the only way you can actually say everything you want to say is by having a carefully drawn up script and reading it verbatim. But then, how “live” would that be?

    In the end, what is important is not what you did NOT say, but what you DID say, because you said it so well… For example, when you spoke about the staff in the 2 paed’s hospitals: everyone understood that you praised them for the miracles they perform every day, IN SPITE OF the horrendous situation our health section is in – you seen Prime Time this Tuesday night???

    In short, Nick, you did well, very well, indeed.

    And then you wrote it all on the blog, where you are getting lots of visits, so the message is reaching out anyway… Hmmm, nice one Nick! 🙂

    Oh, and give a hug to your little man for me, he is so adorable (I love the glasses, but my! how he has grown!)

    • Nick McGivney says:

      You make me feel much better about it, Nan. I just listened through for the first time and I’m happier at least that I got to say thank you to the guys who are doing the work. Next time I’ll bring the verb grenade. 🙂

  7. Kim L. (aka Joshua's mom) says:

    Nick, I have just listened to your interview, & I have to tell you that I think that you are being too hard on yourself. Through your writings on this blog, you have been able to reach so many people around the world (Count me among your fans living in the United States). And now, through your radio interview, you have undoubtedly been able to reach many others. As always, you gave an honest portrayal of the joys & challenges that come with raising a little one who has DS. And I, for one, would like to thank you for that. Keep up the great work! Kim L.

  8. Maeve says:

    Not a bit of it Nick. I randomly switched radio on en route to work yesterday and got that aha feeling after mili-seconds: I know that voice! It was a great interview. You will be back on those airwaves. The way to get people’s ear, (as you would very likely say if advising someone else I suspect but it’s hard to be objective towards ourselves) is to be real, human, likable, joinable – common ground. Cosiness, if that is how you want to describe it, is good. Then people let you in.

    I also caught Colin Farrell on Tubridy now – and he said exactly the things you say below. It’s a corker and worth listening back to if you can. But he already has the world at large’s ear because of his film star gig.

    And you have said it below. To your large (and I suspect growing after yesterday!) audience of people who already let you in as the voice of Our Jacob. And that will be picked up further and more, and its voice will get louder and louder.

    You are doing just great Nick. You always were going to. I knew that from the off


    • Nick McGivney says:

      That’s my mission, Maeve. Become a permanent thorn in the side, pain in the arse, and sometimes mix it up for sheer badness and be a thorn in the arse. And thank you so very much for all that. 🙂

  9. Mel says:

    I think you did a great job- don’t beat yourself up. Loved the interview (and especially the mention of NZ ;)). Sharing how life REALLY is with a child with DS is important. Maybe, just maybe, someone with an antenatal diagnosis may have tuned in, and you may have had a profound effect on their life in a way you will never know. And like others have said, you snuck it in on the blog anyway!

    And in a completely superficial way- lovely to hear your actual voice 🙂

  10. Claire says:

    Niall, I happened to switch it on while driving and listened to the full interview. It would have been great if you could have said what you didn’t say but what you did say was worth saying. Hope that makes sense! You did a great interview. Being a fortysomething first time mum, and hoping for another, I wonder about this situation and how life would be. I do know someone close who has gone through this. I also found this blog written by a Dad in a similar situation in the states. Maybe you have seen it already

    • Nick McGivney says:

      Thanks Claire. I’ve never been in the car with so many people at the same time! I will check out the link. Thanks for being so encouraging, and best of luck with the path you opt for.

  11. Nick,
    Congratulations on an inspiring interview.
    I got the cause for inclusive education. Sometimes it’s our beingness that shouts louder than what comes out of our mouths and the unsaid is still heard. Well done you!And to the whole team who has you being EXTRAordiary

  12. Lisadom says:

    The warmth gave all we needed to know about the importance of what you and Jacob need in the world. A wall of typing can’t do that. Xx

  13. Lacey says:


    I am inspired by this post. I would love to quote this, share it, plaster it on walls, have our president read it, have everyone read it, shout it from rooftops! I would love to e-mail you, but I cannot seem to find an address? I live in the states and everything (almost) you said could be directly applied to our country as well. It’s beautifully written, and I thank you for posting it.

    Lacey C. Program Coordinator, Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan

    • Nick McGivney says:

      Hi Lacey. Thank you very much for your kind words. Please feel free to distribute as you see fit. A link to here would be nice. You can reach me at nmcgivneyATgmailDOTcom

  14. Jenny says:

    Just finding this now and realising its the little man’s birthday, so good timing!
    Great interview!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s