It has been a strange weekend in the life of a sports journalist in Donegal with our non-appearance at the GAA Convention on Sunday last.
Comment by Peter Campbell, Sports Editor
Non-appearance may not be an accurate description as I did make an appearance in the Mount Errigal on Sunday.
On Saturday evening I was very surprised to hear that RTE Radio were covering the Donegal Convention and I contacted them and informed them of the stance that was being taken by all of the local media, who were not attending because of the conditions laid down re reporting restrictions.
Subsequently, I was invited by RTE GAA correspondent, Brian Carthy, to contribute to the show and I had to travel to Letterkenny to do so.
I was also much happier when I was told by Brian that he would not be reporting on Convention, just on the story surrounding the non-appearance of the press.
However, it seems that when RTE applied for accreditation to cover the Donegal GAA Convention - the first time they have ever covered it - they were given the same conditions as the local media and, more importantly, they agreed to them!
It was unfortunate that armed with that information that Co. chairman, Sean Dunnion, told the delegates that RTE would be covering the Convention and would be abiding by the guidelines.
Thankfully, RTE did abide by the wishes of the local media and their coverage of Convention was limited to the controversy surrounding it. Apart from interviews with Co. chairman, Sean Dunnion, and myself, there was also a studio discussion on the matter with Sunday Independent journalist, Damian Lawlor and Eugene McGee.
McGee’s insight was very interesting and came across as one who knows the ins and outs of the GAA world at county level, especially around Convention, while on the other hand Lawlor read out a list of Donegal GAA controversies, some of which were from 2012.
Within minutes of the airing of the piece, I received a ‘phone call wondering what Donegal did on Damian Lawlor!
The bottom line is that Donegal were on the national airwaves - but for the wrong reasons. I did not want to be involved, but I felt I had to travel to Letterkenny to put our (the press) side of the case. I would have been far happier to have stayed at home. Indeed, I would have been happier if RTE had stayed away too.
I have no doubt that the issue between the GAA and the local press will be sorted out early in the New Year.
But it is much more important that going forward that issues such as what happened around Convention do not occur again. The national press are more than happy to wash any of Donegal’s dirty linen in public.
It’s up to Donegal to be smarter and be ahead of the posse.