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The Insiders

The Insiders is a new series that takes the audience behind the scenes to see how transformative events in recent history came about. From the opening up of Croke Park and ending of Rule 42; Riverdance, and how it reinvented Ireland's brand; the hosting of the Special Olympics; and the impact of the online travel revolution we talk to the insiders, those intimately involved at turning points of Irish history.

Episodes

Episode 1: The Last Ban

The inside story of the removal of the Rule 42 which prohibited soccer and rugby from GAA grounds and of how a proposal written in a county kitchen in Co Roscommon opened the way for the Queen's Visit. Insiders tells the story of the battle to remove the ban and of how the GAA did what was once unthinkable - opened the gates of Croke Park to Rugby and Soccer.

This programme looks how a proposal written on a country kitchen table suggesting other sports be played in Croke Park eventually laid its hand gently on the peace process. How the struggle within the GAA to amend "Rule 42" ultimately led to the unforgettable moment when Ireland played England in Rugby and 'God Save the Queen' was sung at Croke Park on the hallowed grounds fashioned from the struggle of 1916.

Kilmore Club member and local hero Tommy Kenoy tells how he and a group of Roscommon people wrote a motion on his kitchen table proposing the repeal of "the last ban" Rule 42. This is a man from the same county as Ireland's first president Douglas Hyde - a president who was censured by the GAA for attending a Soccer match.

We hear from players like John Hayes who despite growing up playing GAA was never in Croke Park until called to play for his country.

We hear from Conor O'Se the former international, asked by the English Rugby Football Union to explain to the team just what they were facing and why Croke Park was not just another pitch.

We see the debate and hear from both sides: those who wanted the status quo and those that wanted change. And we meet those involved, including GAA Director General Paraic Duffy and former Presidents Sean Kelly and Christy Cooney.

Episode 2 - Riverdance

Twenty years on we all know that Riverdance went on to conquer the world of entertainment, but for the first time this is the inside story of how a seven minute sequence of dance on a Dublin stage changed the people who were there, and the world of Irish Dance and music forever, and reinvented Ireland's brand internationally.

Episode 3 - Special Olympics: The Games that changed Ireland

In Ireland we used to talk about mental handicap, and before that retardation. There was legislation on our statute books that defined people with an intellectual disability as 'lunatics' and suddenly Ireland was involved in the Special Olympics, an international celebration of people with disability and hosting tens of thousands of people from around there world.

We were united in the common cause of welcoming 30,000 athletes from 160 countries for the ten day event, the first time the Special Olympics would be held outside of the US.

Insiders hears from the volunteers in remote towns in Ireland that were educated on the food and cultures of far flung places, twinned with people and places they hardly heard of for the Special Olympics.

We hear the remarkable story of one village Ballygar in Co. Galway who hosted war orphans from Afghanistan and later rebuilt their orphanage -and who are now trying to find out what happened to them on their return.

Insiders hears how an outbreak of the highly contagious respiratory disease SARs threatened the games and looks at the affirmative effect the Special Olympics had on the lives of athletes and their families.

Episode 4 - Ryanair

This is the inside story of how one airline logged on and kick started a travel revolution.

The launch of Ryanair.com brought e-commerce to the masses. In March 2000, we became DIY travel agents and cheap flights got us over our fear of spending cash online.

The Insiders go behind the scenes to reveal the incredible story of how a large corporation took a punt on a school boy and it paid off big time. Overnight, Ireland went from being the wild west of the web to Michael O' Leary being the king of the internet.

The Insiders
  • RTÉ One, Tuesdays, 7.00pm