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Defiant D'Arcy in row with Catholic hierarchy

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Ray D'Arcy and fiancee Jenny Kelly

Ray D'Arcy and fiancee Jenny Kelly

Ray D'Arcy and fiancee Jenny Kelly

TODAY FM was last night backing radio presenter Ray D'Arcy in his row with the Catholic church.

A church spokesman had branded remarks by Mr D'Arcy on his programme last Friday as "grossly offensive and factually inaccurate".

Mr D'Arcy said, on air, that the Catholic church had "in many ways f**ked up this country". The radio station subsequently received a complaint from the Catholic Communications Office.

However, speaking on his radio show yesterday, the 47-year-old Mr D'Arcy said there would be "no apology and no retraction".

A Today FM spokeswoman said: "We have acknowledged receipt of that complaint but everything that will be done has been done on air by Ray D'Arcy."

After having threatened to complain to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland watchdog, the church appeared to be backing down, saying it would now "reflect" on the matter.

Martin Long, of the Catholic Communications Office of the Irish Bishops' Conference, claimed a partial victory for the church by noting the Kildare-born presenter apologised three times on air yesterday following the complaint about last week's remarks made during a discussion about TD Michelle Mulherin's controversial "fornication" comments in the Dail.

Mr Long said: "In our correspondence with Today FM, we asked that the issue be addressed on this morning's show at the same time as the offending broadcast on Friday and that Mr D'Arcy should apologise.

"At the required time this morning, the presenter stated that he has apologised three times for his remark and that he never intended to offend practising Catholics and he cited his mother as an example."

Mr Long said his objection to Mr D'Arcy's comments had been on behalf of "all those who hold their faith dear".

Mr D'Arcy, who is an atheist, told listeners yesterday: "When I was referring to the Catholic church, I was referring to the hierarchy of the Catholic church, not to people like my mother, who is a devout Catholic and a great Christian. I never meant to cause offence to them. It's the hierarchy of the Catholic church who have taken offence and are demanding an apology.

"That won't be forthcoming. There won't be a retraction because in my opinion the institute of the Catholic church has caused well-documented damage to this country. You don't need me to go through a litany of documented things that have been perpetrated."

Mr D'Arcy explained that he used the f-word when he became "agitated" during his review of the Dail debate.

'Inexcusable'

"I was reading about Michelle Mulherin's comments in the Dail . . . about a private member's bill about abortion and it got me on to the influence of the Catholic church in this country," he said. "I went on to say that in many ways the Catholic church have f-upped this country."

He stressed that he had apologised to listeners about his language at 9.15am twice on Friday. "It's inexcusable, especially at that time of the morning, but live radio and your blood is boiling -- and these things happen," he said.

He also revealed that he had never had such a response to an item on his show, as hundreds of emails flooded in. "It's probably the most emails we've had on one topic since the show began 12 years ago," he said.

Ian O'Doherty

Irish Independent