Ulster GAA secretary Brian McAvoy has criticised the Belfast News Letter's lack of coverage of Tyrone's victory in September's All-Ireland football final.
Writing in his annual report ahead of the Ulster GAA convention on January 14th, McAvoy said it is "clear that the paper is selective in their coverage of GAA affairs".
"Founded in 1737, The ‘Belfast News Letter’ rightly prides itself as the longest continuous daily newspaper in the world," McAvoy writes.
"The paper has the strapline ‘Pride of Northern Ireland.’ On September 11th 2021 the Tyrone Gaelic footballers were not only the pride of Northern Ireland but the pride of the entire island. Yet the paper did not devote a single word of coverage to the All-Ireland Final appearance or the tremendous victory by the O’Neill County.
"On the Monday following the game (the paper doesn’t print a Sunday edition) the ‘News Letter’ had 17 pages of sports coverage. The featured sports included soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, boxing, motor cycling (road racing), horse racing and tennis and included (and rightly so) a back page photo of Emma Raducanu’s amazing US Open tennis victory, achieved just hours after Tyrone’s great triumph.
"Several days after the All-Ireland Final the ‘News Letter’ ran a story quoting South Down MLA Jim Wells sating that it was not his place to congratulate Tyrone as he didn’t represent the county. His part colleague and First Minister Paul Givan was among numerous political figures who had congratulated Tyrone on their success.
"At the end of October the newly appointed editor of the ‘News Letter’ (he had been Acting Editor at the time of the All-Ireland Final) in the course of a BBC interview said; “we don’t have a huge amount of interest or demand from our readers for GAA coverage.”
"The paper has covered other GAA stories and seems content to do so as long as their reporting does not extend to the coverage of games. It is clear that the paper is selective in their coverage of GAA affairs and I ask the question is this a clear editorial policy of the paper?
"If so, why is this the case? It is totally accepted that the paper has a broad unionist outlook and this is a perfectly fine and legitimate position to hold. It does however have a strong rural and farming readership, with their excellent ‘Farming Life’ Saturday supplement popular across all sectors of the industry. The GAA has a strong farming and rural membership. No one is asking for the paper to devote pages and pages of daily coverage to our games but surely it is not too much to ask for some recognition of our games, given their breadth and popularity across the north."
Picture credit: Sportsfile