RTE says sorry for its 'blasphemous' sketch

A still image from the sketch

Kevin Doyle

RTE will report itself to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and issue a public apology for airing a sketch that suggested God was involved in rape.

The broadcaster's Editorial Standards Board (ESB) has ordered the sketch from the New Year's Eve Countdown show to be removed from RTE's website as it "did not comply with RTE's own standards and broader regulations".

The show was condemned by Archbishop Eamon Martin as "blasphemous".

RTE received thousands of complaints from members of the public.


The broadcaster initially re- fused 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.

Part of a Waterford Whispers News sketch, the clip showed God being led away by gardai for "sexual harassment" offences.

The ESB said the sketch caused "undue offence" and did not give "due respect" for religious beliefs.

It also found it did not comply with the RTE journalism and content guidelines regarding sensitivity to people's religious beliefs.

RTE will make a voluntary disclosure of non-compliance to the BAI and engage with the authority in this process.

The broadcaster will also ask the ESB to review the processes involved in the broadcast and give a report.

It will remove the sketch from the RTE Player and carry a public statement and apology, with due prominence, acknowledging the sketch did not meet expected standards.

"This sketch was not compliant with our own guidelines or with our obligations under the relevant codes," RTE director general Dee Forbes said yesterday.

"On behalf of RTE, I fully apologise for that."