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'It's PC gone mad' - Clare councillor calls on Minister to influence Joe Brolly's RTÉ return

Gerry Flynn is bringing forward a motion calling for Brolly to be reinstated on the panel.

Joanne Cantwell, Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane on RTÉ during the 2018 championship.
Joanne Cantwell, Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane on RTÉ during the 2018 championship.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CLARE COUNTY COUNCILLOR Gerry Flynn is bringing forward a motion calling for the new Minister of Communications to influence Joe Brolly’s reinstatement to RTÉ’s GAA coverage.

Flynn’s motion, which is counter-signed by two other councillors, says that Brolly’s “removal from the panel has taken away from the enjoyment of the game for so many people.”

It’s due to be debated at the Council’s next gathering on Monday, 17 February. 

The Derry All-Ireland winner, who recently took up a new role as part of eir Sport’s league coverage, has been critical of RTÉ’s treatment of him.

He was axed by the national broadcaster after comments he made about referee David Gough during the post-game coverage of last year’s drawn All-Ireland football final. 

He remarked that the Meath official had been “clearly influenced by the propaganda coming from Kerry” after he awarded the Kingdom a first-half penalty and sent-off Dublin defender Jonny Cooper.

Brolly’s contract was subsequently not renewed by RTÉ for the 2020 season.

“First and foremost, I’m an independent county councillor and a sports fanatic,” Flynn told The42.

“I’ve enjoyed Joe as well as the other pundits for many, many years on our national broadcasting station and I had a lot of constituents giving out about the fact that he was dropped for the replay of the All-Ireland final in September 2019.  

“I’ve heard Joe on a number of programmes since and it seems to be affecting the man a lot.

“As a county councillor I felt it was my duty to put forward a motion to the Minister for Communication and the Minister for Finance to basically ask RTÉ how they could do something like that to a man such as Joe Brolly who has given his life to sport.

“A man that won an All-Ireland with Derry and gave his kidney to practically a stranger and provides fantastic analysis to the people of Ireland in relation to our national game. 

“I would have found him both interesting and entertaining. In my opinion, he’s a huge loss to many people who enjoy our national game and I think RTÉ will be the worse for it.

“That’s the nucleus of where I’m coming from and I’m asking RTÉ now to give some reason why they dropped the man. Joe is one of those flamboyant analysts that he calls it as he sees it and if he gets it wrong he’ll be the first to apologise.

“Whoever the incoming minister for communication and finance will be and God knows who will be in power the next couple of months, but it’s still relevant. ”

Flynn said the removal of Brolly took away some of the enjoyment of RTÉ’s GAA coverage, an opinion voiced to him by many of his constituents. He also had a number of requests from the general public to start a petition for Brolly’s reinstatement.  

“I think we’re losing a lot of real pundits that are genuine analysts. I think they’re being hog-tied by RTÉ.

“You might remember when the (RTÉ soccer) panel broke down when Bill O’Herlihy died. You had him, (John) Giles, (Liam) Brady, (Eamon) Dunphy – that type of thing.

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“Maybe Joe felt the whole thing with RTÉ is they want everything scripted. Maybe it’s PC (political correctness) gone mad as well. I think even at the weekend when you look at the result of the general election, maybe the people of Ireland are beginning to kick back.”

a-view-of-the-studio-with-from-l-r-bill-oherlihy-johnny-giles-liam-brady-and-eamon-dunphy The good old days: Bill O'Herlihy, Johnny Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy on the RTÉ soccer panel. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

He added that the national broadcaster’s coverage is becoming over sanitised and mimicking Sky Sports in England.

“Especially Sky, it’s total sanitisation. Christ, we’re getting as bad now that if they get a cough in England we get a flu. 

“You had Dunphy, Giles and Brady. It was not alone entertaining but it gave you an insight and a solid view from people that played the game. In my opinion there’s no better analyst than Joe Brolly and I think Joe, Colm O’Rourke and Pat Spillane were brilliant.

“Of course, we had a new anchor that took over and I’m hopeful that’s not one of the reasons. Joanne Cantwell, I’ve watched her for many, many years and she’s brilliant at her job. 

“Michael Lyster I suppose had something maybe special going with the panel and he’s a loss.

“I just think that enough is enough and it’s time that public representatives, even though it’s at county council level, we need to shout ‘stop’ as well because at the end of the day RTÉ would be getting a lot of public revenue.

“A lot of people now are making complaints about the high level of money paid to certain presenters. 

“If we’re going to have a situation where our national game is going to be sanitised to the degree of what’s happening on Sky and places like that – it’s everywhere now but there’s no reason why we should be buying into it.  

“When you look at the announcement of the GAA and the revenue of €73.9m for 2019, who’s to say that having people like Joe Brolly on those programmes is leading people into the GAA, you don’t know.”  

Flynn is hopeful the motion will receive unanimous backing from his colleagues. 

“Joe as you probably know lost his dad in the last week and I certainly sympathise with him and his family,” he added.

“I would have deferred it if we had debated the motion yesterday, which it was intended but the count for the general election went on longer than anticipated. The county council meeting was adjourned for a week until next Monday so this motion will go ahead then.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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