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RTE wouldn't pay for Joe's sick leave ... and how Gerry got treated the same way

JOE Duffy has revealed his "insecurity and worry" at being told by RTE he was not entitled to sick pay.

The Liveline presenter was informed of the development prior to undergoing a second operation on a severely broken leg.

He made the revelation in his new autobiography Just Joe, which is set to be released this week.

It has also emerged from the book that Gerry Ryan's RTE colleagues were told cocaine would feature in the 2fm star's inquest even though his partner Melanie Verwoerd only found out during the hearing itself.

Joe said his line manager Tom Maguire called into his office two days beforehand to tell him "drink, prescription tablets and cocaine" would feature in the details of Gerry's death.

However, Ms Verwoerd was reported to have been visibly shaken when she heard for the first time at the inquest in December last year that Gerry's death was triggered by cocaine.

Elsewhere, Joe recalls leaving a copy of the Herald in Gerry's drawer on the day he died, not knowing yet of the tragic events.

"I knew Gerry was absent that day but I had gone over to the desk at noon, as I normally did, to leave a copy of that day's Herald in his drawer, as it had an especially nice photo of his wife, Morah, and their five children, taken at a movie premiere the previous night," he says.

Speaking about his broken leg, Joe tells his readers: "Eight months later (after the first operation), when I informed my boss that I would have to undergo another operation requiring hospitalisation and two weeks off, I was immediately handed a formal letter from RTE stating baldly that I was not now entitled to sick pay."

He remembers Gerry Ryan's "anger and concern" at this "new interpretation of the sick-pay clause" in their contracts.

"As he put it, it was 'deeply demoralising and unfair' for workers who had been in RTE, man and boy, for up to 30 years, to be told in their 50s to get sick at their peril," Joe has written.

Nevertheless, he believes if one of the presenters suffered a serious illness the organisation would be compassionate.

"However, the insecurity and worry is still huge," he states.

"In my 23 years in RTE, I only took one single day off sick prior to being knocked down, so I thought the decision to refuse me sick pay was unfair, to say the least."

At the inquest into Gerry's death, Ms Verwoerd told the Coroner's Court that changes in sick leave policy in RTE had resulted in the presenter feeling he could not take time off work even though he was unwell.

In his book, Joe vividly recalls the day, April 9, 2009, when he was hit by a reversing Fiat Punto outside Gilbert Library in Pearse Street.

He was retrieving a bag of books from the boot of his car when the Punto "swung sharply" and hit his right leg with such force that he can "still recall the sounds of the bonnet buckling, metal crushing and glass smashing".

When he looked down at his right leg, it was "literally swinging freely from below the knee".

He collapsed to the ground and could see the wheel of the car moving towards his head, forcing Joe to roll out of the way.

As a result, the two bones of the tibia and fibula were "snapped in two" and he required major operations on the injury. Just Joe by Joe Duffy is being published by Transworld Ireland.

comurphy@ herald.ie