Gay Byrne should also be remembered as a brave and outspoken critic of Sinn Fein and the IRA. He once said on TV3:
“I've always been a hater of Sinn Fein and a hater of the Provisional IRA and everything they stood for — and they don't like me either. I've interviewed Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams and they are so well disciplined and so well honed that no interviewer gets anywhere with them. You get nowhere with them because they lie.They lie all the time. They don't mind lying and they've rehearsed their lies and they've been trained to lie, and that's what they're doing.”
In his early days, back in the dim and distant era of 405 line black and white TV - and long before Gay Byrne began his illustrious career on television in Ireland - he was already very well known as a Granada TV newsreader in North Wales and the North West of England .
At Granada in the late 50s, Byrne shared continuity and news-reading shifts with fellow freelance Brian Trueman in a tiny and rudimentary studio - evidently equipped with a prehistoric vidicon camera . Trueman recalls being told
“When you look up from the page, can you raise your head a little more slowly.” “Why’s that?” They said, “It smears on the camera and what happens if you come up too quickly your eyes stay behind and come up and join you 1.5 seconds later.”
Trueman recalls "
There was no earpiece so we had an ingenious system, which allowed them to tailor the news to the time available. They didn’t have a P.A. either; you just had the editor running it and the tech. people. On the desk was a little light box that lit up with numbers 1 to 10 and they related to stories 1 to 10 which were of varying lengths, which were, supplementary stories after main stories. So you read the main ones that had to be got through then they calculated how much time they had left. Depending on how much time you had, did a quick calculation, No. 3 would come up and you’d read Story 3, put that to one side, and 7 would light up, you’d read 7. All very primitive".