GAA president clarifies remarks about ‘Prime Time’ audience member

Finbarr Dolan describes comments as ‘most derogatory, very wrong and deeply hurtful’


GAA president Liam O’Neill has clarified his comments about a Prime Time audience member as “a throwaway remark and not intended to cause any offence”.

Speaking to The Irish Times , audience member Finbarr Dolan had earlier described the reaction of O’Neill to his views on the Sky Sports TV deal as “most derogatory, very wrong, and deeply hurtful”. He said he was seeking a formal apology, and has already raised the matter with both RTÉ and the Press Ombudsman.

Dolan aired his views on the Sky deal during Tuesday night’s live Prime Time broadcast, claiming that the GAA “should rebrand themselves as the Grab All Association” and that the deal itself “wasn’t good for the GAA, not good for the community, and not good for the nation”.

The following day, speaking at a GAA function in Croke Park, O’Neill sharply criticised RTÉ’s treatment of the story stating: “I think the star of the show was Prime Time in fairness. Where they got people in the audience... where they got the character barely able to read, calling us whatever he called us. Where did they get them?”

On Friday night, O’Neill said he was being more critical of the logistics of the situation rather than questioning anyone’s ability to read.

Dolan was clearly that character to whom he was referring, as he did read parts of his views from bullet points prepared during the previous item on the show.

The 60-year-old Dolan, a retired bank official from Knocklyon in South Dublin, believes he is now owed an apology.

“If it was someone else in the audience, and a bit of banter between us, saying I was barely able to read, you’d take it as tongue-in-cheek,” he said. “But when it comes from a man in his position, and the biggest sporting organisation in the country, I don’t find it acceptable.

“I thought it was most derogatory, very wrong, and deeply hurtful. And I would be looking for an apology. I’ve always held the GAA in the highest admiration. I love the GAA, I love what they do, and I’m not out to insult anyone in a derogatory manner.

“And I wouldn’t expect it from a man of his stature. It was so personal, and he has no right to say that about me as a person.

“I aired my views, as an ordinary person. So there was no need for him to say that, and personalise it like that. And I’ve got great support from around the country, with regard to the views I stated on the night. It was my first time to speak live on television. I did refer to my notes as little as I could . . . And I never got aggressive . . .”

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