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RTÉ to issue apology after review finds sketch accusing God of rape breached its own standards


A still image from the RTÉ sketch with God being arrested for rape. Photo: RTÉ

A still image from the RTÉ sketch with God being arrested for rape. Photo: RTÉ

A still image from the RTÉ sketch with God being arrested for rape. Photo: RTÉ

RTE is to issue a public apology and report itself to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for airing a sketch which suggested God was involved in rape.

The broadcaster’s Editorial Standards Board has ordered the sketch from the New Year’s Eve Countdown Show to be removed from RTÉ’s website as it “did not comply with RTÉ's own standards, and broader regulations”.

It comes after the show was condemned by the Archbishop Eamon Martin as blasphemous. RTÉ also received thousands of complaints from members of the public.

Initially RTÉ refused to delete the segment from the online version of the programme, but it will now do so as a result of the review by the standards board.

The clip, which was part of a Waterford Whispers News sketch, showed “God” being led away by gardaí for “sexual harassment” offenses.

The RTÉ Editorial Standards Board said the sketch caused “undue offence” and did not give “due respect” for religious beliefs.

The Board also found the sketch did not comply with the provision in the RTÉ Journalism and Content Guidelines regarding sensitivity to people’s religious beliefs.

After consideration of the RTÉ Editorial Standards Board's findings, RTÉ has made the following decisions:

  • RTÉ will make a voluntary disclosure of non-compliance to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and engage with the authority in this process;
  • RTÉ will request the Editorial Standards Board to review the processes involved in the broadcast and report on same;
  • RTÉ will remove this sketch from the RTÉ Player;
  • RTÉ will carry a public statement and apology, with due prominence, acknowledging this sketch did not meet the standards expected of the national broadcaster.

The Director General of RTÉ Dee Forbes said today: "We accept the findings of the Editorial Standards Board that this sketch was not compliant with our own guidelines or with our obligations under the relevant codes. On behalf of RTÉ, I fully apologise for that. We will now review the processes involved and engage constructively with the BAI."

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