Yes, my eyes filled with tears watching Gay Byrne’s funeral.
I’d like to have been there, but a combination of illness and being so far down the list of his friends that I hadn’t a hope of getting a seat in the Pro Cathedral, prevented me from attending.
It is only right that a man of his influence, stature and importance should have received the send off he did.
But isn’t it extraordinary how many people seem to, on the one hand have loved Gay and mourn him today, and on the other despise the organisation for which he worked, where he made his name and through which he did so much to change Ireland for the better?
Isn’t it extraordinary too how some on the left of the political spectrum would prefer to see our national station funded by multi-national social media giants than by the people of Ireland?
I have no doubt that Gay would have invited on to his programme, some of those ‘lefties’ who clearly despise not just RTE, but almost everything about the country which, in some cases, pays them a healthy salary and more than adequate expenses.
I wonder how many of them would regularly be guests on radio and television stations which are part of the Murdoch portfolio?
RTE is ours. That doesn’t mean we have to like everything it does. In fact, it doesn’t even mean we have to like anything it does.
But it IS ours. And we can complain about it and expect to be heard. We can bitch about how much some of its staff are paid and expect, at the very least, justification and transparency.
We can make suggestions, we can write in to complain – as people did to Gay – or, these days, we can text or email or tweet. And we do. And our voices are heard, our views are broadcast.
It’s costs us not quite 44c a day for a tv licence.
A week of what it costs us for a television licence, wouldn’t get you a latte in most coffee shops.
And yet there are those who say we should abolish the licence rather than make sure everyone pays it.
I don’t like everything that’s done with taxes I pay. But I pay them because a) I have to and b) I know the needs are there.
Gay Byrne taught us how valuable our national broadcaster is.
We have lost him.
But, if we did love him, and I certainly did, we should make sure we don’t lose what he gave us, what he loved and what we should, at the very least, appreciate.
It would do him a disservice.
To keep, improve and treasure it, would be an appropriate way of honouring him.