Monday 23 October 2017

Complaints rejected over RTE apology in Panti row

Rory O'Neill as Panti Bliss
Rory O'Neill as Panti Bliss
Rory O'Neill

Brian Byrne

The broadcasting watchdog has rejected all complaints about an apology issued on RTE's 'The Saturday Night Show' over comments made by entertainer Rory O'Neill.

The apology was issued on the January 25 edition of the programme after journalists John Waters and Breda O'Brien and members of the Iona Institute were named by Mr O'Neill, also known as drag act Panti Bliss, during a discussion about homophobia.


The apology stated: "It's an important part of democratic debate that people must be able to hold dissenting views on controversial issues."

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) rejected four complaints over the apology.

RTE said that the purpose of the apology was to counter the earlier assertions of homophobia and to mitigate the cost of defamation proceedings, and claimed the language used was "well-reasoned and balanced".

In its ruling, the BAI stated that "broadcasters must be free to take measures to ameliorate the impact of a broadcast that it believes has infringed its legal obligations, including the airing of apologies as a legal remedy to claims of defamation".

However, a complaint was upheld against RTE Radio 1 after Irish fashion designer Paul Costelloe stated that young Irish men in Britain were "damaging a lot of young English virgins".

He made his comments on 'The Business' show. During a discussion about the success of young Irish people in London on February 1, Mr Costelloe said: "I'm sure these young guys are doing great and damaging a lot of young English virgins, so there you are, and good luck to them."

The BAI decided that the statement "would cause undue offence and that the programme makers had not taken due care in the way in which the comments were handled".

It also partly upheld a complaint against Newstalk 106-108 after presenter George Hook (73) claimed that the Labour Party "is essentially opposed to organised religion".


Irish Independent

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