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Furious RTE staff hit back at Grainne after star's 'workshy' jibes

RTE'S flagship radio show hit back at Grainne Seoige today after she suggested they "don't want to work".

Morning Ireland staff said they "work practically around the clock" despite Seoige's comments about the work ethic at the national broadcaster.

"The night team leaves in the early hours of the morning and the early morning team starts at 5.30am. Now there is a webcam in the studio so our audience can watch as well as listen," said a spokeswoman.

She added that they are not whingers as suggested by the former news anchor.

Seoige's comments came while speaking about working on breakfast television in Britain.

The presenter remarked that RTE did not have early morning programmes "because people don't want to work".

Her remarks caused a stormy reaction from representatives of RTE staff who described her remarks as "cheap and nasty".

She admitted today her remarks about her Montrose colleagues could have sounded "dismissive" and said she "wouldn't dream of offending them".

She suggested that her Dublin colleagues were whingers and did not have the same work ethic as people at ITV where she worked on Daybreak for a year.


"I'd get into work at 4.30am and everyone's been up since ridiculous o'clock and the hairdryers are going and there's laughing and joking coming out of the rooms, and it's like a wedding party getting ready every morning," she said.

"Nobody ever comes in saying 'oh it's awful', because nobody's whinge is more important than anyone else's. And we're all there and we all have to go on at 6am smiling.

"And you have to ask yourself: 'Why is there no breakfast television on RTE?' Because people don't want to work." In a bid to defuse the explosive effects of such a comment, she conceded that her comments, heard in isolation, "could come across as dismissive".

And she insisted that all her colleagues in RTE work "hugely long hours" and that she "wouldn't dream of offending them".

But RTE workers' representative Pat Ward, a Siptu organiser, said: "These comments by Grainne Seoige are irresponsible and unwarranted. The staff in RTE, the lighting, the cameras, the people working in sound and programming, don't earn anything near what Grainne Seoige earns but have taken pay cuts and have been asked to forgo annual leave.

"I think in that context Grainne Seoige could show a little more courtesy and respect for the people who make her look good on TV."

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, denounced Ms Seoige's remarks as "cheap and nasty and without foundation".

"I would expect better from someone who has a background in factual broadcasting," he said.

"RTE workers, both staff and freelance, clearly want to work. It is not my experience of RTE that there is any unwillingness to work, or make programmes.

"People in RTE already work through the night and work anti-social hours."

An RTE spokeswoman said staff had always responded to demand for new services in a flexible manner. "The demand and business case for breakfast TV have never been such as to make it a priority," she said.

Read John Ryan, Page 27