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Tyrone boss Mickey Harte still giving RTE the silent treatment four years on

By Claire McNeilly

Published 18/05/2015

Mickey Harte is happy to talk to the media, but has not granted post-match interviews with RTE since 2011
Mickey Harte is happy to talk to the media, but has not granted post-match interviews with RTE since 2011

Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte has continued his boycott of RTE after once again refusing to be interviewed by the Irish broadcaster.

Harte hasn't spoken to RTE since 2011 after details of a letter sent to the Irish broadcaster were leaked to the Press.

RTE subsequently had to apologise to him following a hugely insensitive radio sketch about the death of his daughter Michaela.

Following his team's defeat to Donegal at Ballybofey in the Ulster Senior Football Championship encounter yesterday, he continued his boycott of interviews.

It was the first Sunday Game Live, RTE's flagship sports programme, kicking off the new season.

The boycott comes after months of negotiations between RTE and the Tyrone County Board, as well as a face-to-face meeting with Harte himself.

The grievance began after Harte was the target of a sketch on RTE's John Murray show in August 2011, which mocked him for going to see the Dalai Lama and then included the song Pretty Little Girl from Omagh.

This came just months after his daughter Michaela had been murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius.

Murray's RTE Radio 1 sketch attracted fury in Tyrone circles, and a county board statement at the time said: "Inappropriate references to the fact that the Tyrone manager Mickey Harte was associated with the Dalai Lama conference in Limerick and the choice of the song Pretty Little Girl from Omagh will give you an indication of the complete lack of sensitivity the presenter in question afforded the Harte family and Michaela's husband John McAreavey, in what remains for them a very difficult time."

In response, the Irish broadcaster apologised.

According to sources at RTE, the latest attempts to broker a solution with Harte started last August and continued for several weeks before resuming in January.

Tyrone recently appointed a new County Board chairwoman Roisin Jordan and have also acquired new sponsors McAleer and Rushe, a Cookstown-based construction firm.

It is understood that Harte met RTE representatives at the end of February but refused to change his stance.

He has insisted that none of his players has been banned from giving interviews to the state broadcaster but none of them has since Harte started his boycott.

Jordan and other Tyrone officials have repeatedly brought interviewers to the team's dressing room after matches.

The Tyrone manager speaks freely to other broadcasters on the strict condition that they don't share footage of him with RTE.

Meanwhile, Tyrone defender Cathal McCarron returned to Championship action yesterday afternoon.

It was his highest profile game since making his county comeback earlier this year after well-documented personal problems.

The 27-year-old made headlines when he appeared in a gay sex video on a pay-per-view website. He has also struggled with a serious gambling addiction but friends say he is trying to leave his troubles behind and focus on getting his GAA career back on track.

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