Northern Ireland

Joe Brolly talks about republican movement family links

Former Derry GAA player Joe Brolly
Former Derry GAA player Joe Brolly Former Derry GAA player Joe Brolly

Derry All-Ireland winner and commentator Joe Brolly has again spoken of his family's close links to the republican movement.

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC presenter Mark Carruthers for the Red Lines podcast, the high-profile barrister spoke about his father Francie, the Troubles and the possibility of running for political office at some time in the future.

In an interview with The Irish News in 2021, Mr Brolly also spoke about his father, a former republican internee and Sinn Féin assembly member, who died in 2020.

Francie Brolly
Francie Brolly Francie Brolly

At the time he spoke of a disrupted childhood and no longer having any relationship with his parents, adding that his father "died a stranger to me really".

In 2005 his father was arrested and questioned about the 1972 Claudy bombing, which resulted in the deaths of nine civilians.

He was later released without charge.

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Speaking to The Irish News, Mr Brolly said of his decision to donate a kidney to Shane Finnegan in 2012 "maybe partly it was to atone for the terrible crimes committed by people close to me".

During his recent BBC interview he described his father as a "person of interest" to the security forces.

On the subject of his arrest in relation to Claudy, he said he spoke to him about it and his father said "'look, you know as much about this as I do son'".

Pressed on what he had previously said about the reason for donating his kidney the lawyer said: "What I said was people close to me and in my community because there were people who frequented our house, very good friends of my family".

Joe Brolly in action for Derry
Joe Brolly in action for Derry Joe Brolly in action for Derry

He also revealed how during the Troubles there was a "sense of them and us" in the area where he grew up.

"I can remember when Lord Mountbatten was blown up and I can remember the sense of triumph in the town," he said.

"I mean there was this sense of brilliant, brilliant, brilliant and, if I am not mistaken, I think 18 paratroopers were murdered on the same day...and again, the sense of triumph around that."

Mr Brolly added that the "taking of human life is abhorrent".

He also spoke about a future career in politics and revealed he has previously voted for the Women's Coalition and more recently the SDLP.

The former GAA player claimed he has never been approached by a political party.

"I think that as I get older I could probably, I say this without hubris, I could probably make a contribution," he said.

"Now, whether I would have the party discipline on things like that is questionable."

"As a person who I think is hooked into the world and I think, empathetic to people and colour blind, and blind in terms of religion, and I hope has no prejudices, except against Tyrone, that I would have a contribution to make politically."