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‘Ageist’ RTÉ offloaded legendary broadcasters John Giles and Bill O’Herlihy – says Eamon Dunphy


Eamon Dunphy

Eamon Dunphy

Eamon Dunphy

Eamon Dunphy has accused RTÉ of being ageist and ‘offloading’ legendary broadcasters John Giles and the late Bill O’Herlihy. 

Speaking on The Mario Rosenstock podcast, he was asked by the host: “Why did you leave RTÉ as a pundit.”

Mr Dunphy replied: “Well, I have to be diplomatic here. Have you seen their offering recently? I didn’t want to be part of that.”

Mr Rosenstock put it to him that John [Giles] was kind of “off-loaded.”

"Do you think there was an element of ageism in John being offloaded?”

Mr Dunphy at that point said: “And Bill [O’Herlily] was offloaded as well.”

Mr Mr O'Herlihy died at home in May 2015, aged 76, less than a year after he retired from his role as one of the nation’s most distinguished and most recognised sports anchors.

The broadcaster was one of RTÉ’s best-loved and most respected hosts up until his retirement after 49 years on air. During his long-running career, he covered ten World Cups, and ten Olympics.

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Mr Rosenstock asked Mr Dunphy: “Was Bill offloaded?”

Mr Dunphy said that Bill had announced his retirement, but he was ‘booted’ and John was ‘booted.’

Mr Rosenstock asked: “Are you saying Bill O’Herlihy was let go from that job?”.

"Yes,” Mr Dunphy replied, stating: “He was a great broadcast journalist.”

Mr Dunphy said: “Have you read Declan Lynch in the Sunday Independent? He has been writing for years about RTÉ’s war on talent.”

He said that he had the benefit of having seen “what happened to John and Bill,” adding, “it wasn’t going to happen to me.”

Mr Rosenstock put to him: “You are a fan of American culture and American television. I presume you have noticed the same as I, that if you are good enough in America, you are young enough and that means that older broadcasters are welcomed into the fold and are judged on their talent and experience, not on their age."

Mr Dunphy commented: “Yes, it was ageist. It was shocking to witness and be around, and I witnessed it over a period of years actually when you add the two guys together, and I knew they would be coming for me, but I managed to you know, retain my self respect, ask them ‘why they were doing this, why they were wrecking  this very good programme, and why they wouldn’t go for the kind of people they could have like Graeme Souness’

"They didn’t want to know, so I said ‘okay,’ and I became a nuisance, and then I left. But I had set my podcast up before I left, and I don’t regret for one minute leaving.

"I do miss working with Liam [Brady] and Didi [Hamann] and John and Bill.”

In March 2016, it was reported that RTÉ had decided to cut John Giles from their schedule when his deal ended after that summer’s European Championships.

In a statement to the Herald at the time, he said: “I’ve been approached recently about my position with RTÉ after the Euros and I want to clear up any speculation.

“In my negotiations with RTÉ Head of Sport Ryle Nugent last year, he made it clear to me that this was to be the final year of my full-time engagement with RTÉ.

“He said that this was designed to allow him to continue the requirement to plan and prepare for the future.

“This was perfectly understandable to me and I signed the contract which finishes after the Euro 2016 final in France in good faith.

“But I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not retiring or even thinking about it,” he added. 

The RTÉ decision signalled the beginning of the end of the celebrated three-way verbal jousting on RTÉ panels between Giles, Dunphy and Liam Brady, known affectionately as ‘The Three Amigos’.

The trio had built a memorable rapport with the late Mr O’Herlihy, who once declared Giles to be “the best in the world” in his role as a television football pundit.

A spokesperson for RTÉ said it had no comment to make.

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