RTÉ defends Tubridy interview with ‘drunk-sounding’ McGrath

RTÉ has defended an interview with Paul McGrath on yesterday’s Tubridy radio show in which the Irish football legend, who has had well-documented issues with alcohol, sounded under the influence.

McGrath, a former Manchester United centre-back, was on the 2FM radio programme yesterday morning to discuss abusive tweets he had received in the course of Sunday’s match between his former club and Liverpool.

A number of listeners contacted the show after the segment ended to air their concerns for the health and well-being of McGrath, who denied he was back drinking but admitted to having had a bad Christmas.

Ryan Tubridy began discussing Sunday’s match with sports reporter Jacqui Hurley, who said she had felt sorry for Paul McGrath as he had been receiving unwarranted abuse from Liverpool fans in relation to some tweets he had sent during the game.

When McGrath came on air he said of the tweets: “If people want to have a go at me, that’s fair enough, I’ll have a go at them. I said what I thought.

“The problem being that I reflected my views on [Liverpool full-back] Glen Johnson which maybe I shouldn’t have done. I apologise for that.”

Johnson, an England international, previously criticised McGrath for questioning his support of Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez in a race row with Manchester United player Patrice Evra.

However, the former Republic of Ireland star, now back living in Co Wexford, said he was “in good shape” before admitting “Christmas wasn’t so good”.

He mentioned his two sons, who are in Afghanistan as part of the British Armed Forces, and then alluded to current Ireland international James McClean’s decision not to wear a poppy last November.

Tubridy, sounding concerned, asked him if he was living with anyone, to which he replied: “I look after myself, [I’m] not living with anyone.

“I don’t like people,” he said. “I live a life on my own but I love Twitter.”

Some Twitter users yesterday questioned whether the item should have aired.

A spokesperson for the Tubridy show said: “RTÉ 2FM’s Tubridy team contacted Paul McGrath this morning to invite him to take part in the show’s regular sports review with Jacqui Hurley. Mr McGrath has a relationship with the Tubridy show and has been on as a guest and contributor several times before. Mr McGrath sounded to be in good form and the team had no concerns at that time. As the interview progressed, Ryan Tubridy and the team became concerned and handled the situation accordingly. Following the interview with Mr McGrath, Ryan aired listeners’ concerns and expressed his intention to contact Mr McGrath off the air to talk to him further.

“RTÉ takes its responsibility around sensitive matters in live transmission very seriously, and we are satisfied that today’s interview with Mr McGrath was handled appropriately by Ryan and the Tubridy team.”

Commenting on the issue Eamon Dunphy yesterday said Twitter was “a nasty piece of space” and said he would never use it.

“There are a lot of egomaniacs who are on it. Anyone who knows Paul would feel extreme anguish at the idea of him being abused.

“It’s a vanity machine. I feel sorry if anyone was hurt.”

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