Calls from three Independent Clare councillors for RTÉ to reinstate Joe Brolly to its GAA coverage has been overwhelmingly defeated.
Much publicity has followed Cllr Gerry Flynn’s (IND) motion which sought the return of the outspoken Derry native to The Sunday Game. His appearance on the 2019 drawn All-Ireland SFC final was his time appearing on RTÉ when he claimed that referee David Gough was influenced by “Kerry propaganda” in his decision to show Dublin’s Johnny Cooper a red card.
An All-Ireland winner in 1993, Brolly last received as much attention in Co Clare when he said Marty Morrissey was “as ugly as Cavan football”.
“We are calling on the Minister for Communication/Finance to request RTE to reinstate the football analyst Joe Brolley to his position on the current panel asap. Joe has provided in depth analysis of football for many years and his removal from the panel has taken away from the enjoyment of the game for many people who watch our games on the national station,” the joint motion from councillors Flynn, Ann Norton (IND) and PJ Ryan (IND) read.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting of the local authority, Cllr Flynn commented, “This motion has opened up a huge debate, that’s exactly what I wanted. Sometimes it takes courage to speak out against the sacred cows in our society, I believe RTÉ fits into that description”. Funding to the value of €50 for RTÉ announced by Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton was criticised by the Shannon resident. “We have presenters fuelling criticism of elected representatives, some of those who wouldn’t know the meaning of austerity”.
Flynn added, “Joe Brolly was just an analyst on a number of football games, not very many, He was entertaining and controversial, there is nothing wrong with that”. The Cathaoirleach of the Shannon Municipal District said Minister Bruton also needed “to end speculation” surrounding an increase to the licence fee. He said that the combined tally of RTÉ’s top ten earners totals “over €3million” and asked fellow councillors “don’t go along protecting sacred cows”.
Viewers watched The Sunday Game “just to see what he (Brolly) had to say,” Cllr Norton stated. “People should actually have a voice, this motion has definitely given a lot of people quite a lot of voice over the last three weeks. I don’t think any of us expected to get as much of a profile around this motion”. The Barefield woman flagged that the two time All Star is now working with a rival station. “Joe Brolly is now on Eir Sports as an analyst, as soon as he got the bullet for coming off script, Eir Sport took him up immediately. You have to have controversy in life, otherwise there would be no conversation”.
Of his previous motion on HAP, Cllr PJ Ryan lamented, “I just wish that my previous motion got as much attention from the press as what Joe Brolly did”. The home heating oil distributor added, “It is true to say RTÉ in my opinion have got too big for their boots. They’re collecting massive money from the public, they got rid of poor Joe, Tracy Piggot and Mary Kennedy, low hanging fruit who were not the biggest earners in RTÉ”.
Criticism of the motion was voiced by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) was among those to slam the proposal. “It is a waste of the paper its written on, a waste of Council time, a waste of Chamber time. The only time I want to see a brolly at a match is when it’s raining”.
Plenty of suitable football analysts reside in Co Clare, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) believed. “It is not our business who RTÉ puts on their shows. We should be debating something more fruitful than this. I would also like to say to Cllr Flynn we’re not here protecting anyone. Maybe if Cllr Flynn wants to propose a footballer from this county, it would have been better,” the Chairperson of Clare GAA stated.
Newly co-opted councillor, Pat O’Gorman (FF) told the meeting he “had a problem” with the motion and that time would be better spent discussing flood protection in Springfield. “Joe Brolly is well able to look after himself, we should be talking about the people in Clonlara not Joe Brolly”.
Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) wished to put on record his opposition to the motion. “I have been stopped by a lot of people who misunderstood I was the signature”.
Responding to the comments, Cllr Gerry Flynn admitted, “I got what I wanted from the motion, I opened up the debate. Cllr O’Callaghan needs to read standing orders, Minister and RTÉ is mentioned, so they are fair game”. He noted Ger Loughnane and Martin Daly from within Clare were “fantastic analysts”. He addressed his namesake Johnny Flynn by saying he has got criticism for an Ennis Municipal District decision to roof the market building in the town. Johnny clarified, “I voted against that” to which Gerry replied, “Good for you”.
Only the three signatories supported the motion with all other twenty four councillors present in the Chamber against. “The tax payer who support RTÉ, their voice has been disregarded, that is the message we’re sending out,” Cllr Ryan said as matters moved on.
Other items dealt with at the adjourned February meeting included flooding at Springfield, Shannon Airport, childcare costs, parental alienation, amendments to the school curriculum at primary and second level and HAP.