Belfast Telegraph

Dermot: class act from old school

By ROY HARRIS

Obituary: The motorcycle racing fraternity has lost one of its most respected correspondents with the passing of Dermot James on Monday after a short illness.

Dermot, from Hillsborough, had for over 40 years reported on Irish motorcycle sport for various daily and weekly newspapers including the News Letter, Sunday News and Sunday World.

Many will recall his Irish Notebook in Motor Cycle News for whom he was the local correspondent for many years, as well as contributing to the BBC, UTV, RTE and Manx Radio.

Dermot, who 70 years of age and a retired teacher, always went about his business in a quiet and unassuming way, covering all branches of the sport. He was equally at home reporting from a road race, short circuit, motocross or trial, providing the exposure that events, competitors, spectators and sponsors thrive upon.

He is credited with coining the phrase, the Dromara Destroyers, as that great group of riders comprising Ian McGregor, Ray McCullough, Trevor Steele and Brian Reid forever became known.

He was a friend and confidante of all the top riders and legends but never forgot the important role of the regular clubman racer in the sport, or in his reports.

You could always be sure that a busy Dermot would make his deadline with reports and results from all the weekend motorcycling events whether here at home or Irish riders competing throughout the world.

Dermot had many, many contacts within the sport and was always on the button looking for a journalist's favourite word -- 'scoops'.

An old style reporter from the days when mobile phones, lap tops, e-mailed press releases or broadband and internet were unheard of, it was always a case of pen and paper for Dermot and then commandeer a telephone to make his report from an event to his various media outlets before that crucial deadline.

He did embrace modern technology in his latter years, but always quipped: "It's not like the old days any more when there were no press officers or people trying to tell you what to do. You had to find your own stories when I started."

I first came across Dermot or as he was then known by his pen name 'Ron Martin' through his newspaper articles before meeting him when I was involved with Enkalon Motorcycle Club from 1976, as he attended many of the club functions.

He was always helpful and supportive when I began writing for magazines and kept encouraging me to keep at it -- he even asked me to cover occasional events he was unable to attend.

Dermot, a decent man, will be sadly missed around the motorcycle scene and to his devoted wife Mel, often at his side at major events like the North West 200, and the entire family circle, the Belfast Telegraph sports team extend deepest sympathies.

Sincere condolences are also extended to the family and friends of 27-year old Johnny Buckley who lost his life in a road traffic accident on Monday.

Johnny was an established competitor on the Irish short circuit scene having won seven Irish Supersport championship races, going on to finish second and third in the 2012 and 2010 Irish championships.

He had also finished third in the Adelaide Masters Supersport series in the same two years and his presence on track and around the race paddocks will be sorely missed.

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