Sunday 19 January 2020

Joe Brolly's sarcasm is lowest form of wit

Former Derry footballer and GAA analyst Joe Brolly. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Former Derry footballer and GAA analyst Joe Brolly. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Sunday after Sunday I buy your paper especially for the sports but each Sunday Joe Brolly just makes me angry in his column. His sarcasm (Sport, Sunday Independent, May 28) starts in the first sentence "Mickey Harte, the great and glorious leader of the Independent People's Republic of Tyrone".

Mickey is a man who has a genuine compassion for people and has given untold help in his own quiet, unassuming way. Criticise him if you want but sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and should be beneath a man of his education.

He seems to take great pleasure in mixing with the tough men in Derry football who could knock and beat players/supporters/drinkers because they did not like what was said to them. This is from a man who practises law for a living. He seems to take great pleasure in being as obnoxious both in his column and on TV.

I don't know why he bothers going to football matches at all, he is so permanently negative about the game

Ask Joe to read John Greene's article in the same edition and maybe he will see why so many people are involved and get so much enjoyment of the GAA.

Donough O Reilly,


Co Dublin


Insensitive analogy

Joe Brolly, completely insensitive to the feeling of others, rants on with another of his alleged, "eyewitness" tales of his past on-field/off-field punch-ups ("Hurling thriller reminds us how far we have fallen", Sport, Sunday Independent, May 28).

His columns constantly refer to the brawling and boozing which he states was a central part of his GAA upbringing and which he allegedly took with him over the white line. Brolly endorses and explicitly glorifies this violence.

Two points from this article need to be looked at. When bemoaning what he sees as the terminal decline of Gaelic football, Brolly states: "With the essential spirit of the game so compromised (save for a few honourable exceptions), championship games are a pale shadow of their former selves. When I went to Derry-Tyrone matches as a child, and later played in them, it was war."

And secondly: "When we played Tyrone the atmosphere was almost unbearable. I remember before we left the dressing room in 1991 to play them in Celtic Park, Eamonn Coleman telling Tony Scullion that Mattie McGleenan had said he was finished.

"This was no doubt made up, but Eamonn delivered it with conviction, his face wrinkled in disgust. Tony stood up and put his fist through the door. We rumbled out on to the pitch like paratroopers going into the Bogside."

Brolly, brought up in Dungiven, 17 miles from Derry City, is a barrister by trade so it should be expected and understood that he uses words, the tools of his trade, with great consideration before committing himself to paper or vocally on the broadcast media.

His past "controversies" are well-documented but in the case of this article, how can the last sentence in the previous paragraph be best understood?

The non-sporting analogy which Brolly is obviously making could have been made in many other ways. What remains then is the question as to why he decided to commit these particular phrases to make his point. Only Brolly can answer this.

Growing up in the Bogside in Derry City, I was nine years old on January 30, 1972. The day the paratroopers of the British Army "rumbled" into the Bogside and left 13 dead and scores with bullets in their bodies in their wake.

Most commentary on this period agrees that the paras were withdrawn from Derry after this and never were they returned.

So Brolly could only have been referring directly to "the paratroopers" and "the Bogside" with a clear historical analogy in his head. The massacre on January 30, 1972. The massacre on Bloody Sunday in Derry City, and he is laughing at all of us as he does it.

Brolly knew precisely what he meant and shame on him for it.


Derry City


Two men and their legacy

Sir — They were ordained the same day 60 years ago, they remained lifelong friends until one passed on a few years back. One was from the country, the other a true blue Dub.

He had a voice like Ronnie Drew — it masked the fact thathe was an academic. His gift was to make people feel that life was worthwhile. His country buddy was unique in so many other ways — he played Gaelic football as a young man. They say he was tough, another way of saying: “He’d go through you for a short cut.”

The Dub left his print before he said goodbye. If you mentioned his name to anyoneanywhere, you’d get the same reply: “Sure, I knew the D------R well.”

His buddy, shortly after his ordination, spent a long time in the streets of Kilburn, London. He reached out to those who had long since given up, the men who wrote home to say how well they were doing as they took the last slug from the bottle of VP, most of them sleeping outunder the stars.

This man of the cloth did not preach, he reached out. He never asked if you’d been to Sunday Mass. Neither did his partners, one of whom later became a Prince of the Church. He walked the walk instead of talking the talk. Later in life he himself was castigated for falling in love with a woman who bore his child, “How natural is that?. He was frowned upon by those who didn’t matter, and still don’tmatter.

I’ve been lucky to have had the friendship of the Dub and the guy from the country who built his church without much help from other sources.

I miss Mass more times than I go. I hope God is made in the shape of the two men whose friendship I cherish.

Fred Molloy,


Dublin 15


Norah’s brave story and a family disease

Sir — I watched Norah Casey on The Late Late Show on Friday, May 26 and read Wayne O’Connor’s article (Sunday Independent, May 28).

I agree Norah’s story may resonate with many of your readers — both male and female, if they have suffered verbal, physical or emotional abuse.  She mentioned alcoholism and addiction.

Alcoholism is a family disease, affecting not only the person with the disease but those close to them, too — a mother/father/brother/sister/wife/husband/ friend can be affected by living, sometimes “on egg shells” in order to keep the peace. Often, as in Norah’s story, they feel they are to blame or they try to control the other person’s drinking — usually to no avail. 

There is help and hope for families and friends of alcoholics — through an organisation called Al-Anon, which can be contacted via the Al-Anon Information Service confidential helpline — 01-8732699 or the website

Mary Corrigan,



Bruce’s views are much needed

Sir — Bruce Arnold’s views on Ireland — the EU and Brexit — are politely understated. With the UK leaving the undemocratic EU, Ireland should also depart unless our TDs and mandarins intend to destroy the agri-sector of our economy. We have already sacrificed our fishing industry, to which the EU attaches no value, (we should demand France and Spain — the main beneficiaries of our seas — provide free wine and free holidays).

Continue Bruce Arnold’s articles on this very important issue, otherwise Mother Ireland will be sold out once again.

I voted No to the Lisbon and Maastricht Treaties — so much for the EU accepting democratic results — the EU gets ever closer to the old Soviet Union in its practices (Mr Gorbachev).

Michael Larkin,


Dublin 6


Searching for the soul of journalism

Sir — I respond to Declan Lynch’s article on the soul of journalism, (Sunday Independent, May 28).

Journalism lost its soul when it capitulated to a shrinking concentration of wealth and power to a hungry elite who use the greatest technological success ever achieved and the most powerful economic period in human history to consolidate their grip on ownership, wealth and power at the expense of increasing millions who were once considered ‘middle’ or ‘working’ class and the backbone of society, democracy and civilisation itself.

Very little is written or spoken in newspaper, or on current affairs radio or TV, on the very serious impact of technology on economics and the effects of overproduction, elimination of growth and massive reduction of work on the lives of hundreds of millions.

It is easy to eulogise and preen about truth and factual accuracy, but when what is true and accurate is selectively reported and confined entirely to one viewpoint, it is a more loathsome form of misinforming than printing actual lies. So it has been for a decade of reporting on economics; the single most important aspect of civilisation and the success or failure, of which will determine whether the human race progresses peacefully or self-destructs in anger, conflict and conflagration.

Paul Krugman, eminent Nobel Prize winner for Economics, recently suggested “serfdom” was becoming a reality for increasing millions of Americans.

So it is with thousands of millions more all over the world as journalism fails to truly and accurately investigate, analyse and discuss how unprecedented technology which enhances life and creates wealth in greater abundance than ever imaginable before, imposes instability, penury and fear on increasing millions. Selective exclusion of debate regarding technological impact on overproduction, elimination of growth and massive reduction of work portrays phony markets as guardians of recent enormously enhanced ability and production power omitting to point out how the benefits are confined to bond-holders (aptly named) and monetary manipulators.

In the meantime, dignified commerce of the many (smaller business and employment) is let melt into the ether. In military matters, the expendable infantry used to be regarded as cannon fodder; the expendable middle/working class is now regarded as consumption fodder. To buy gross overproduction of the elite, in shops of the elite with money borrowed from the elite, to make the elite even more elite. Bonded serfdom; your day is returning but journalism does not want you to know.

Padraic Neary,


Co Sligo


Sad waste of food

Sir — Well, I wouldn’t leave ‘two pence’ value on sell-by dates on food packets, bread or other items. On Monday, May 29, I gobbled a fried egg (best before May 25)! It tasted and looked in top nick. We used to preserve eggs for months in the 1930s and 1940s — no fridges — just a crock in the room. It’s sad to see so much waste of good food and yet so much hunger worldwide.

Oh, no one should eat food that’s gone off or is decaying, but I fear the ‘sell-by date’ is often misleading and wasteful.

Kathleen Corrigan,

Co Cavan


Animal carnage

Sir — As I drive the roads of our wonderful country, I am constantly struck by the carnage of animals and birds on our lanes. On a recent trip from my home in Ballymoney to Donegal, I counted 25 birds — made up mostly of wood pigeons, ravens, blackbirds and thrushes lying dead on the road.

They were accompanied by numerous hedgehogs, badgers and foxes. If you multiply that number by the countless roads on our island, the number of casualties must be phenomenal on a daily basis.

What can be done?

I ask all drivers to be cognisant of those creatures that were here before us and give them a chance. Slow down my friends.

Pat Burke Walsh,




SF discrimination

Sir — Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein has now declared that “there can be no room in our society for any form of discrimination”.

Interesting, given that Sinn Fein has taken the opportunity to discriminate against as many Northern citizens as possible over many years, by refusing them their basic right to democracy, which Westminster representation provides.

There have been two recent widely reported cases where the courts have made clear that discrimination against individuals is illegal. Could it, perhaps be, that Sinn Fein now recognises that a continuation of their anti-democratic policy could see them brought before the courts?

So, well done Michelle for making it crystal clear that there is indeed “no room in society for any form of discrimination”.

No doubt Gerry Adams and the Sinn Fein top brass have approved this change of direction, otherwise she would not have been so specific.

The only other explanation is that she has simply scored an own-goal. Surely not?

David Crossland,

United Kingdom


Best way forward is abstention

Sir — Brendan O’Connor’s plea for advice on what particular tipple to indulge in once one has grown tired/sick of previous choices (Living, Sunday Independent, May 28) struck me as a typically Irish solution to a typically Irish problem.

When one cannot bear the digestive discomfort of drinking certain alcoholic beverages, then the most logical and appropriate step is the simply change your “poison”. All alcohol will no doubt have the same effect on the human body — changing might simply offer temporary respite.

Having recently quit drinking alcohol completely, I would like to assure Mr O’Connor that the best way forward is abstention. He speaks of “looking forward to one at the end of a long, hot day”. Well, I can assure him that the sense of achievement in reaching key milestones of sobriety far outweighs the short-lived pleasure of a cold pint. My advice on your next drink? Nothing. A mineral perhaps, as they say.

Sean Grimes,




Courage of writers to take on the IRA

Sir — How dare Bob Waddell (Letters, Sunday Independent, May 28) criticise your columnists for keeping up the good fight against Sinn Fein and the IRA?

He mustn’t be aware of the courage it takes to publicly stand up to these groups.

Apart from all the worries about getting a backlash, they have to even countenance the possibility that the war could begin again, giving these reprobates the opportunity to clear out some old enemies.

That is a real possibility given the likelihood that Sinn Fein’s current strategy will fail. Trying to stumble over the top of the unionists on the way to a united Ireland isn’t going to work.

It is more than likely to create the circumstances for civil war. I hope all those who vote Sinn Fein will be prepared to die in a civil war on the way back to a re-partitioned North.

It would be better to seek a reasonable alternative rather than the massive blood sacrifice Gerry Adams must have in mind if he has thought through his strategy.

John O’Connell,

Derry City


The lives cut short

Sir — A contributor (Letters, Sunday Independent, May 28) wonders if Jim Cusack, Ruth Dudley Edwards and Eoghan Harris would have “anything to write about if the IRA hadn’t existed”. Well, isn’t it an awful pity that we never had the chance to find out!

Sarcasm aside, the gentleman might not be aware that Jim Cusack actually wrote a book on the UVF.

In any case, I’m more inclined to wonder what the following people might be up to had the IRA not existed: Paul Maxwell, 15 years old when killed by an IRA bomb in Mullaghmore, Sligo, in 1979, Timothy Parry, 12 years old, and Jonathan Ball, aged three, when their lives were cut short in the Warrington bombing in 1993.

Jim O Connell,

Dublin 7

Sunday Independent

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