When Eamon Ryan decided a few months ago to alter government policy in order to keep his sons happy (the kind of behaviour normally associated with Saudi Arabian sheiks) he can hardly have anticipated the hostile response he would get. Because the communications minister, famously now, was unable to watch a rugby match with his boys because it was on Sky and he decided that the joys of Leinster v Treviso or Munster v Perpignan should be available to us all on live television, whether we liked it or not. If he gets his way, all Heineken Cup games involving the Irish provinces and all Six Nations matches featuring Ireland would be on free-to-air television. Sky or some other moneybags channel would not be able to place its grubby paws anywhere near a decent Irish rugby match; RTÉ and TV3, the only other candidates to show such games, would therefore get away with paying a relative pittance for the pleasure.

As you'll have seen during the week, the Irish Rugby Football Union has had a conniption over this, arguing that the loss of revenue from the likes of Sky could potentially destroy the game in Ireland, lead to the departure of top players like Brian O'Driscoll to lucrative contracts abroad and put an end to the success enjoyed by Munster and Leinster in recent years. One immediate effect of this (aside from the enforced emigration of Amy Huberman) would be that many of the Leinster supporters who joined the rugby bandwagon in recent years, and for whom Eamon Ryan purports to be speaking, would go back to supporting Manchester United.

While basing government policy on the whims of such fair-weather fans is odd, it should be acknowledged that Ryan's instinct on this issue is a decent one. Wouldn't it be great if we could all watch the rugby at home with our friends and family instead of going to the pub to gawp at a big screen? Certain events are "an important part of our identity, part of our culture", Ryan argued earlier this month. "I think when they are that, it's all the stronger when everyone has a chance to actually share the viewing experience."

The minister points to statistics which show a huge difference between audiences for matches broadcast on free-to-air tv and on satellite. He further argues that it is wrong that big rugby matches can be enjoyed only by richer people, who can afford to pay Sky €30 a month for its sports package. He has also pointed out that a taxpayer donation of almost €200m to the very beautiful Aviva Stadium does entitle him to an opinion on this issue.

The IRFU might have been a little more gracious and acknowledged that fact during the week, even while articulating its strong view that Ryan's proposals are "cracked". As indeed they are. Each of the minister's arguments is weak; were he to get his way, more harm would be done than good.

The harm would come purely and simply from the loss to the IRFU of revenue which it has used expertly in recent years to create a situation in which all of our big teams – the international squad, Munster and Leinster – are winners or potential winners in a way they have never been before. That kind of continued success will do more for the health of rugby in Ireland than better tv ratings ever could. In any case, these bigger audiences will not materialise in any meaningful way if teams are not winning.

A second flaw in the minister's reasoning is that a Leinster or Munster rugby match is not an event of national significance. Vast swathes of Munster and Leinster could not care less about the rugby teams which purport to represent them. The notion that hundreds of thousands of fans from Dublin through Westmeath and down to Cork and Kerry are missing out on watercooler moments because the rugby is on Sky is therefore ludicrous.

As is Ryan's claim that only richer people have Sky Sports. When Sky began making inroads into sport in the 1990s, its dishes began popping up first on the chimneys of houses in less affluent areas. It was actually the middle-classes that took time to catch up. Approximately 700,000 households in Ireland now have Sky Sports, through satellite dish or cable.

Most people who want it in order to watch rugby have it; that is why there has been no grassroots campaign to list rugby matches as free-to-air events. It simply isn't perceived as a problem. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, in other words. Ryan should withdraw or seriously modify his proposals.

Double-act: Clegg could teach greens a thing or two

So far so good for the Cameron/Clegg coalition, which has been changing British politics in its first two weeks in office. While Cameron has been busy trying to eliminate the influence of some of the crazier members of his backbenches, Clegg – who could teach the Green Party here a thing or two about properly influencing government policy – has set about dismantling the paraphernalia of state security so beloved of the Labour Party: plans for a national id card have been abolished; email and internet records will not be held for years; children will not be fingerprinted by schools without parental consent; the dna database will be properly regulated. There is big trouble ahead on the economic front, obviously, but it's fascinating to watch a government multi-task, and refuse to allow its monumental fiscal problems stop it from taking action on other fronts.