Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Tyrone's RTE boycott shows integrity of team

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

I'm glad to see that Tyrone footballers will be boycotting RTE coverage for the third championship summer in a row.

Not because I've anything against the RTE sports department but because it's good to see people sticking by their principles.

Back in August 2011, only a few months after Tyrone manager Mickey Harte's daughter had been murdered in Mauritius, RTE's John Murray Show broadcast a sketch which lampooned Harte for going to see the Dalai Lama and included the song 'Pretty Little Girl From Omagh In The County Of Tyrone'.

It was horrible stuff.

It took RTE three days to furnish an apology – an apology which you'd have to say didn't exactly reek of wholeheartedness after a group of people decided to make fun of a Tyrone man whose daughter had been murdered.

Murray continues to purvey his brand of wacky fun on RTE Radio. Meanwhile, Mickey Harte and his family have had to get on with their lives.

So it's strange to see the Tyrone boycott being portrayed as something surprising or even unreasonable.

In reality, the team and the county can do nothing else.

Respect for Mickey Harte and the memory of Michaela McAreavey leaves them no choice.

The RTE boycott, far from being an infringement of press freedom, is actually a tribute to the integrity and spirit of the Tyrone footballers which says a lot about the kind of people they are.

There are more important things in life than a few post-match interviews.

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