Northern Ireland news

GAA pundit Joe Brolly describes how he welcomed young homeless man into his house

Joe Brolly told The Late Late Show how he welcomed a young homeless man into his home to live before Christmas
Gareth McKeown

ALL-IRELAND winner Joe Brolly has described for the first time how he invited a young homeless man to live in his house.

The outspoken GAA pundit, who previously donated a kidney to a friend in 2012, opened up about his latest selfless act which he described as like a scene from the 1980s movie Trading Places.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ's The Late Late Show, the barrister told how he came to welcome the young man into his home in the leafy Malone Road area of Belfast before Christmas.

"I saw the kid on the street and we talked for a while and he was only 20," he said.

"And it was freezing and I said 'come with me' and he came with me.

"It is a very interesting experiment. That was at the start of December. It is a bit like Trading Places.

"I just trust him and very quickly he was responding to that. He was warm, he was safe and he didn't have to pay rent. He was eating well."

Although he brought a photograph of his house guest with him to the television show, Mr Brolly did not reveal the man's identity.

He did though, provide an insight into their home life, joking how he has lent him suits to attend interviews, despite Brolly being a foot taller.

“He was going to job interviews in my suits looking like Charlie Chaplin, proud as punch."

He said the young man has now secured full-time employment, but before worked a zero hours contract with no security.

"The bus cost him £7.50, he was getting £6.10 an hour. The first day they brought him in for two hours and after two hours they said no, we don't need you any longer today.

"At the end of the week he had like six hours, £36. He had spent more on the bus.

"How do people live? This is a systemic problem. He's working as a painter and decorator now and he's proud as punch and then he saves a bit of money with me every Friday.

"He's absolutely thrilled every time he asks 'how much do I have now'."

Mr Brolly said had he not taken the young man in, the alternative could have been "very bleak”.

"About a month after he was with me I drove him down to go to the funeral of one of his friends who had died on the street of hypothermia," he said.

In the same interview Mr Brolly responded to speculation he could become the next president after his odds were slashed to 20/1.

When asked if he was interested, the 1993 All-Ireland winner with Derry responded: "I don't think so really, it's an ambassadorial role really."

After further probing, Mr Brolly said he would consider the prospect "if I thought I could make a difference".

"There are five or six things that could make a huge difference in areas and if you thought you could advocate for that it's not something that would be beyond the pale," he said.

RTÉ presenter Miriam O'Callaghan last week confirmed she would not be standing following speculation she was preparing a bid, amid uncertainty over whether President Michael D Higgins will seek a second term.

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