Jerome Quinn is mad as hell with the BBC and he’s not taking any more. Well actually, he’s taking a case against them, because he says they discriminated against him on the grounds that he came from a ‘Catholic and irish background’.
It’s a tangled tale. Jerome (like myself an Omagh man) claims the BBC, besides downgrading him as a GAA commentator, was opposed to the GAA in general, promoting sports enjoying a largely Protestant/unionist following like the Northwest 200 motorbike race. He even says there was manipulation to make sure that a GAA player didn’t become the Sports Personality of the Year in 2008. The BBC for its part says Jerome was on websites, slagging off the BBC and generally giving out – anonymously – about his employers. In 2008 Jerome was removed from the BBC’s The Championship programme; in 2009 he was removed from the Sunday Sportsround Radio Ulster programme.
It’s hard to tell with these thing but I suspect Jerome won’t win his case. But win or lose, he’ll have done a valuable service: he’ll have focused public attention on the BBC in Belfast and how they handle things Irish, especially the coverage of sports. It is true that we get an amazing amount of footage of dreary Irish League games and obscure women’s hockey games, with a crowd consisting of about 73 people and a small dog. It’s also true that if there isn’t a team from the north of Ireland playing, you can kiss goodbye to any hope that the BBC will televise a Gaelic football or hurling match. Sports interest stops with the border.
Which makes you want to dive onto the couch and smother your face in a big cushion when you hear BBC presenters saying tut tut, isn’t it sad the way people here will insist on mixing sport and politics?