I never really bought into the notion that because Miriam O'Callaghan flirts with celebrities on Saturday nights, she becomes a less credible broadcaster on Tuesdays when she is interviewing government ministers. The idea gained currency in the early episodes of O'Callaghan's chat-show life a few years ago when – still awkward and self-conscious amongst people who thought a stimulus package was located somewhere in the groin area – she gushed and emoted with frightening enthusiasm. In those days it was indeed hard to square the person who fawned over an actor in one studio with the person who was beating Dick Roche around the head in another. But then she settled down, and now she's very good at the celebrity stuff. In any case, nobody ever questioned Pat Kenny's ability to do current affairs even though, right to the last, he remained as gauche as a star-struck teenager around celebrities, especially large-breasted, attractive ones. Mark both of them out of 10 for their ability to manage celebrity interviews and to do serious broadcasting and you might very well judge that O'Callaghan comes out on top as the better all-round presenter.

There are still difficulties in her twin-tracked approach, however, and last weekend O'Callaghan got caught right in the middle of one of them. The guest on her Saturday night show was Brian Crowley, the Fianna Fáil MEP for Munster. Crowley is a phenomenal vote getter and topped the poll in his constituency in the 5 June elections. Unsurprisingly, he is being tipped as Fianna Fáil's candidate in the next presidential election, which he would be favourite to win, the party's current unpopularity notwithstanding. He has expressed interest in being president; despite his disability, he has the energy to conduct a nationwide campaign. He certainly has the personality, and seems uninterested enough in policy issues to be able to cope easily with the lack of intellectual stimulation seven years in Áras an Úachtaráin would bring. Moreover, he is a man – which may well be an advantage after more than 20 years of Presidents Mary and Mary.

Crowley effectively introduced himself to the non-Munster voters last weekend. Indeed, you could describe his appearance on Saturday Night With Miriam as the unofficial launch of his presidential campaign.

So far, so acceptable – just about. At the end of the interview, O'Callaghan went into gush mode. She told Crowley that he was inspirational and agreed to accompany him on a song. My last memory of the show was O'Callaghan playing keyboards while Crowley warbled a more than adequate version of 'Let It Be'. As the final credits rolled, I realised that RTé had just allowed one of its main current-affairs presenters to host a celebration of the life, times and political prospects of a potentially key political figure of the coming years, and to midwife his arrival as a serious national candidate.

Fast forward a few years. It's a Tuesday night during the 2011 presidential campaign, and Prime Time is holding a series of interviews with the three main candidates – Brian Crowley for Fianna Fáil, Mairead McGuinness for Fine Gael, and Emily O'Reilly for Labour. Miriam O'Callaghan, a former member of Crowley's backing band, is the interviewer. The perception of O'Callaghan's independence in such a scenario is compromised by her cheerleading for Crowley last weekend. She might well argue (and she might well be right) that her ability to conduct fair, balanced and vigorous interviews would be unhindered; that she has been a professional broadcaster for years and would make the return journey from keyboard player to journalist with ease. But perception is everything, and the last thing RTé needs is for Crowley to be interviewed in an election campaign by the broadcaster who effectively launched his campaign.

This is particularly true given the way RTé executives allowed some of their key programmes to be used to win the last general election for Bertie Ahern. Fianna Fáil backbenchers gripe from time to time about some imagined slight from the national broadcaster, but they should consider how lucky they are to have the support of a station which allowed Eoghan Harris a free run on The Late Late Show to proselytise, in return for a Senate seat, on behalf of the then taoiseach. RTé lost credibility as a balanced broadcaster during the last election, and allowing Miriam O'Callaghan to big-up the prospects of candidates she may have to interview in future elections doesn't do anything to win that credibility back. It should more rigorously vet her guests while being careful not to interfere with her ability to do her job.

seeing miracles in the most unlikely places

The people of Rathkeale in Limerick have taken a certain amount of flak over the last few days for trying to protect a tree they say looks like the Virgin Mary, a well-known character from the Bible. They've been visiting in droves, holding impromptu prayer meetings and saying the Rosary. They have been criticised for their gullibility as a result.

Personally, I think the tree stump looks like Ivor Callely, the former Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North Central, but that's just me.

People see what they want to see. Our Taoiseach is on the record as saying that he can see green shoots of recovery emerging from the recession, despite the alarming rise in unemployment and the prospect of massive bank-related debt for decades to come. If Brian Cowen can detect green shoots in a mangled economy, can we be surprised that the people of Rathkeale see the mother of God in an oak tree?