Today With Sean O Rourke Friday 15 November 2013

Today with Sean O'Rourke

Today with Sean O'Rourke

The mid-morning current affairs magazine with the stories of the day, sharp analysis, sports coverage, in-depth features and consumer interest.

EU/IMF Bailout Exit

EU/IMF Bailout Exit

The Government has chosen to decline an “overdraft”  and we’re leaving the EU/IMF bailout programme without a cushion.

We’ve signaled to the world that we are on the road to normality, but it’s not over yet, there are several years of fiscal discipline lie ahead.

On the line was Dr. Stephen Kinsella of University of  Limerick’s Economics dept, who believed the Government would say no to a precautionary credit line.

Sean was also joined by Professor Brian Lucey of Trinity College who says the Government has decided to jump without a parachute – and wonders if there will be a soft landing.



We know that today over 360,000 people in Ireland are using legal moneylenders, rather than banks or credit unions, to get loans, with some of those lenders able to charge interest rates of up to 290% a year.

The lenders are licenced by the Central Bank, with the majority of borrowing in this area being used to pay for family events or domestic bills.

Brian O’Connell has been speaking to some people who have availed of loans from moneylenders, and he has also gotten the views of one legal moneylender.

Ursuline Choir

Ursuline Choir

Over the past few weeks we’ve played some wonderful pieces of music from the weekly winners of the All Ireland Schools Choir competition.

Last week's winners were the Ursuline College Sligo and they performed a beautiful version of Johnny Said No, under director Fiona McQuillan.


Domestic Workers

Domestic Workers

Ai-Jen Poo was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2012.

She is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in the US and founder & co-director of Caring Across Generations, an organisation working with people in need of care and careworkers to raise the profile and value of care in society.

Ai-Jen is in Dublin this week as a guest of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland to celebrate 10 years of MRCI's Domestic Workers Action Group.

Sean was also joined by Siobhan O’Donoghue, who is the Director of the Domestic Workers Action Group in Ireland.

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida

One of the greatest needs for children born with spina bifida is the services of a paediatric urologist. So it may surprise you to learn that for children born with the condition since 2009, there is no access to a urologist in this country.

Valerie Cox has been investigating.

Christmas Puds and Sauces

Christmas Puds and Sauces

It may seem like early days, but if you have a big gathering planned for this Christmas then it’s time to get your house in order and perhaps start planning – and cooking – ahead if you’re to avoid a last minute nightmare. We’ll be bringing you up to speed on what to do over the next couple of weeks and this week it was Christmas Puds and Festive sauces with none other than Catherine Fulvio.

Orange and Fig Christmas Pudding

Makes a 1.2 litre pudding bowl

Sometimes Christmas pudding is just too much at the end of such a rich meal so this isn’t the traditional pudding as it uses butter instead of suet and is a little lighter. This can be made 2 to 3 weeks before Christmas if you haven’t the time.    


150g raisins

100g dried figs, roughly chopped

2 medium oranges, juice and zest

3 tbsp brandy

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground cinnamon


100g butter, softened

120g soft dark brown sugar

200g plain flour

60g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs, beaten

1 medium carrot, grated

1 tbsp roughly chopped crystallised ginger

60ml brandy


Melted butter, for brushing the bowl

Parchment and foil, for the bowl

String, for a handle

1 orange, sliced

1 fresh fig, cut into wedges (optional)


  1.       Place the raisins, figs, juice and zest, brandy and spices into a medium size saucepan and heat gently. Once heated, remove from the heat, cover and leave to soak overnight.  
  2.       To prepare the bowl, brush a 1.2 litre pudding bowl with melted butter. Place a piece of parchment and foil together and make a fold in the centre for expansion when cooking.  
  3.       When ready to cook the pudding, cream the softened butter and dark sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. 
  4.       Fold half the flour, ground almonds, add the eggs and mix well.
  5.       Add the grated carrot and ginger, followed by the rest of the flour.
  6.       Carefully stir in the brandy.
  7.       Spoon the pudding mixture into the bowl, cover with the parchment and foil layer and tie with string around the edge and make a “handle” for ease when checking the water level and taking out.
  8.       Place the pudding into a saucepan of simmering water with the lid on.  The pudding bowl must fit snugly into the saucepan. Remember to keep checking the water level, adding boiling water when necessary. Simmer the pudding for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into centre of the pudding comes out clean.    
  9.       Remove the pudding from the saucepan and cool in the bowl. Wrap tightly in parchment and foil. “Feed” the pudding once a week with a little brandy. 
  10.   Reheat the pudding for 1 hour or until hot. To decorate, place the orange slices on the top and arrange wedges of figs on top if you are using them.  Serve with cinnamon and vanilla custard.

Tip:  If you need a change from the orange – add pomegranate juice and then decorate with the lovely jewelled seeds.

Cinnamon and Vanilla Custard

Serves 6 (about 700ml)

600ml low fat milk

1 small cinnamon stick

6 egg yolks

½ tsp vanilla paste

120g caster sugar


  1.       Place the milk and cinnamon stick in a medium size saucepan over a medium heat and heat slowly, keeping an eye on it.
  2.       In the meantime, place the egg yolks, vanilla paste and sugar into a small bowl and whisk well.
  3.       Once the milk is warm, pour it through a sieve to extract the cinnamon stick and return the milk to the saucepan and heat over a medium heat.  Slowly stir the yolk mixture into the milk, stirring all the time until a thin custard has formed. Pour the custard through a sieve again into a jug and serve warm.

Individual Cranberry Puddings with Spicy Berry Sauce

Makes 8 to 10 individual pudding moulds depending on the size 

These are a change from the traditional large puddings and very pretty as well, just make sure that they don’t dry out too much during cooking.    

120g mixed dried fruit

150g dried cranberries

1 apple, peeled and grated

180ml strong cold tea

4 tbsp whiskey


120g dark brown soft sugar

150g flour

70g fresh breadcrumbs

1 tsp mixed spice

2 tbsp chopped dried mango

2 eggs, beaten

80g chilled butter, finely diced

Zest of 1 lemon


Melted butter for the moulds


Holly, for decorating

Fresh cranberries, for decorating (optional)


  1.       Place the mixed fruit, cranberries, apple with the tea and whiskey in a large bowl and soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.  
  2.       Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 5.
  3.       To prepare the moulds, brush them generously with melted butter. Place a little disc of parchment in the base of each mould and make foil and parchment covers for each mould To make the puddings, mix the sugar, flour, breadcrumbs, mixed spice and dried mango together into a medium bowl.
  4.       Add the soaked fruit into the flour mix.
  5.       Stir the beaten eggs into the fruit mixture and gently mix in the diced butter. Finally add the lemon zest.
  6.       Spoon the mixture into the pudding moulds. Then cover the moulds tightly with a “lid” of baking parchment and foil. Secure with string.
  7.       Place the pudding moulds into a roasting pan, place into the oven and half fill with boiling water. Keep checking the water level and topping up with boiling water. 
  8.       Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer is inserted into the centre of the puddings comes out clean. 
  9.       Remove from the oven and remove from the roasting pan and allow to cool. Cover and wrap and keep “feeding” with a little whiskey from time to time. 
  10.   To reheat, place in the oven in a roasting pan with water for ½ hour or until hot.
  11.   Unmould, spoon over berry sauce and decorate with holly leave and cranberries if using.

Tip: Use wholemeal flour instead of the plain flour for a great nutty flavour.

Spicy Berry Sauce

Makes about 350ml

180g brown sugar

200ml water

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

120g fresh cranberries

To make the sauce, heat the sugar, water, cinnamon and star anise in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and simmer for 7 – 8 minutes, to form a syrup.   Add the cranberries and bring to the boil until the cranberries “pop” but still hold their shape. Simmer for 2 to3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat and cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. This will keep in your fridge for 5 to 6 days.



Joining Sean for this week’s Gathering were Ingrid Miley, RTE’s Industry and Employment Correspondent; Jim Power, economist; Alieen Hickey, Barrister and Conor Pope Consumer Affairs Correspondent with the Irish Times



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Presenter: Sean O'Rourke


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