Wednesday 29 March 2017

GAA presenter fired by BBC 'misled' tribunal

Michael McHugh

THE former face of Gaelic games at BBC Northern Ireland was accused of being disingenuous, misleading and evasive by an industrial tribunal which rejected his claims of sectarian bias.

Jerome Quinn (42) was sacked last March for gross misconduct after posting anonymous criticism of the station's coverage on websites.

He claimed he saw himself as a "standard bearer" for the sport and alleged his dismissal was unfair and an act of victimisation because of his race, religion or political opinion.

But in a ruling to be released today, a tribunal panel chaired by Orla Murray said his claims of discrimination and unfair dismissal should be denied in their entirety.

The tribunal said Mr Quinn, from Omagh, Co Tyrone, was evasive when being questioned on points which were not supportive of his case.

"(He) also gave misleading evidence in the form of statistics in his apparent determination to paint an adverse picture of GAA coverage.

"We assessed the claimant to have been disingenuous at various points in his evidence," it found.

Mr Quinn was suspended in February last year after his criticism of the BBC's GAA coverage was discovered by an internal investigation. He had been with the BBC in Belfast for 17 years.

The tribunal found he was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct.

One of Mr Quinn's complaints related to BBC coverage of GAA matches. But the tribunal noted that airtime for soccer and rugby had decreased, while that devoted to the GAA increased.



Reasonable

Many of Mr Quinn's allegations surrounded the conduct of BBC sports editor Shane Glynn.

But the tribunal said the picture that emerged of Mr Glynn was of a "considerate, reasonable manager attempting to balance . . . competing demands".

Mr Glynn is a Protestant with a mixed-religion background from Co Cork. Mr Quinn claimed he targeted him because he was Catholic and connected to the GAA.

The tribunal said: "(This) was not borne out by the evidence . . . Mr Glynn promoted and engaged Irish Catholics (and) clearly respected and promoted GAA coverage.

"The claimant has . . . failed to provide facts from which we could conclude that Mr Glynn's treatment of him was tainted by unlawful discrimination."

He was questioned about his use of the expression "the North" to refer to the Northern Ireland soccer team but claimed he had no idea this could offend a section of the community.

In October 2008, his presentation of sports coverage on BBC Radio Ulster's morning news programme relegated a Northern Ireland international soccer report behind GAA stories including the appointment of a new Limerick hurling manager.

He was dropped as presenter of the BBC's flagship GAA show 'The Championship'.

Mr Quinn was not available for comment yesterday.

A BBC spokesman said: "It would not be appropriate for us to comment on that outcome until the findings have officially been made public."

Irish Independent

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