Friday 23 March 2018

Michael Murphy accuses RTE of being ageist and discriminatory – but broadcaster insists it was all a joke

Recently-retired newsreader said his treatment in the newsroom was ‘absolutely disgraceful’

Michael Murphy at the launch of his Book of Poetry titled 'The Republic of Love' in Hodges Figgis Dawson St
Michael Murphy at the launch of his Book of Poetry titled 'The Republic of Love' in Hodges Figgis Dawson St
Garreth Murphy

Garreth Murphy

RTE have said that an interview with newscaster Michael Murphy where he accused the national broadcaster of being ageist and discriminating against him for being gay was an “April Fools joke”.

In the interview on the John Murray Show this morning, Mr Murphy claimed his rolling contract was not being renewed because he was “old and gay” and said he was moving to Spain to read the news on a five-year deal.

However, RTE later dismissed the interview as a joke and said it was an April’s Fools prank.

In the lengthy interview, Mr Murphy claimed that he that RTE had discriminated against him because of his age and sexuality.

“In the RTE newsroom at the moment, they are organising a policy against LGBT discrimination. And yet here they are discriminating against an older gay person. I think that is absolutely disgraceful. If there is any hint of discrimination, it must be got rid of. You can’t get rid of one bit and get rid of another bit.”

However, a spokesperson for RTE said: “The whole thing was a joke. It was all a bit of a laugh.”

Last December Mr Murphy expressed his disappointment that had been only offered a six month extension to his rolling contract with RTE News.

At the time he said: “They called me in and sort of said, ‘because of your age, you may not be receiving a contract', it was left as vague as that,” he said.

“I did receive one in the end, for six months. I don't worry (but) I don't know if it will be renewed. I'd be fine if it wasn't though, there are other irons in the fire.”

The 65-year-old psychologist – who overcame cancer - has been working part-time at the national broadcaster for 40 years, as a continuity announcer, a newsreader and a producer.

In today's interview, the newscaster and psychologist claimed that he was about to make a move to Spain to read the news over there.

“Today I am going to sign a contract to read the news in Spain with Radio Nacional de España. It will be a five year contract. It will be a mixture of Spanish and English. I will be presenting the news in both English and Spanish on a new news programme. The contract will be for five years and I will be 10 days on and 10 days off. So I will be able to get home.

“I have a large psychoanalytic practice and I won’t be letting them down. I’ll be seeing the clients.”

He then proceeded to speak Spanish for a couple of minutes at the behest of host John Murray.

Earlier Murphy said that people should be given the opportunity to decide when they want to retire. 

“Michael Noonan is over 70. I’m not comparing myself to him but Gay Byrne is almost 80. You should be able to go on as long as you want. If you want to retire at 65, fine. But I don’t”

The joke also appeared to be lost on others. Some tweeted after the show that Murphy would be a huge loss to RTE.  One tweeter David Cochrane wrote:"Thought Michael Murphy's bit on John Murray (joining ES station) was Apr1 until he said RTE discriminating against him for being old and gay."

Efforts to contact Mr Murphy were unsuccessful this afternoon.

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