Jude Collins

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

You mean they don't head the ball?

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?


  1. A few years ago my Canadian wife and I where visiting Ireland. We stayed in Belfast a few days and planned to drive to Dublin to visit cousins of mine.
    We checked the TV for a weather report, I'm sure it was the BBC. Low and behold there was a weather map of the British Isles, minus the Republic of Ireland. No kidding the six counties was standing alone with nothing south of them, just a blank space. It looked for all the world that the ROI had disappeared off God's green earth.
    Now how petty is that. My dear wife was just dumbfounded at this farce.

  2. Just like the title of the last post "Same old same old" or even Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose.
    I have experienced more or less the same discrimination in govt employment in the north and the biggest problem is getting any kind of assistance to fight it. The discrimination is more insidious/undermining and therefore more difficult to tackle.
    I support Jerome 100% in his battle and wish him well, but he is up against vastly superior resources and the odds are stacked against him because of the system. Perhaps SF (as they argue most strongly for equality) would think of setting up a group to focus on tackling discrimination against Irish citizens in employment in the north.
    The myths of “Parity of esteem” and “Equality of opportunity” set out in the Good Friday Agreement and the affirmations contained therein appear to have been just another con. Cosmetic changes will never work.
    These last two posts excellent btw.

  3. I agree with Jerome but the only way the BBC will sit up and take notice is if people stop watching BBC or withhold payment on TV licences.Flood the BBC with emails demanding more programming for GAA games.Gaelic football is far more entertaining as a spectator sport than soccer.A few years ago I brought a Scottish friend (a Rangers fan too I might add)to the Irish Club in Toronto to watch the All Ireland,he had never seen a gaelic football game before and was astonished at the end to end action ,the level of fitness and committment displayed by the players and the carnival atmosphere between the opposing fans and of course a thoroughly entertaining game.I played soccer for over 40 years and while I love the game it's no match for GAA.