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RTÉ receive 847 complaints about Panti appearance and apology to Iona Institute

The majority of the emailed complaints have been received in the past three days.

Image: Conor Horgan via Website

RTÉ HAS RECEIVED 847 complaints about the Saturday Night Show in the past three days.

The complaints refer to the Rory O’Neill, aka Panti, controversy. Although a breakdown was not provided, it is understood the majority of the complaints relate to an apology issued last weekend.

On Saturday’s show, presenter Brendan O’Connor said:

Now, on the Saturday night show two weeks ago comments were made by a guest suggesting the journalist and broadcaster John Waters, Breda O’Brien and some members of the Iona Institute are homophobic. These are not the views of RTÉ and we would like to apologise for any upset or distress caused to the individuals named or identified. It is an important part of democratic debate that people must be able to hold dissenting views on controversial issues.

The comments he mentions were made by O’Neill during a segment of his interview about gay rights.

A spokesperson confirmed that the 847 complaints were received by email and “the majority in the last three days”.

“RTÉ continues to focus on speedy responses to complainants,” a short statement concluded.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has also received more than 100 complaints on the issue.

The episode of the Saturday Night Show that featured the interview with O’Neill was removed from the RTÉ Player for a period of time. When it was replaced, part of O’Neill’s interview had been cut short, with legal concerns cited as the reason.

TheJournal.ie has learned that the Saturday Night Show is now planning a debate about homophobia to air this weekend.

Politicians react

There has been a reaction from the wider political community to the affair today, with John Lyons confirming that his Topical Issue on RTÉ’s reported compensation to Iona Institute members was not selected today.

He said that Parliamentary Questions on the matter have been tabled and the Topical Issue resubmitted for Tuesday. Independent Catherine Murphy, who wrote for TheJournal.ie this morning, has also submitted questions to Pat Rabbitte.

Senator Averil Power has also asked for the Minister for Communications to appear before the Seanad to advise how much was paid to the Iona Institute.

She said that there were “more appropriate” remedies available, including a “right to reply”.

(Thanks to It Only Encourages Them for the video)

Power’s Fianna Fáil colleague Jim Walsh disagreed with her stance, and raised concerns about a “hate campaign” being waged on Twitter against the organisation. He said the Iona Institute is not homophobic.

(Thanks again to It Only Encourages Them for the video)

Read: More than 100 complaints about Panti appearance and RTÉ apology>

Related: O’Brien accepts RTÉ apology, but says broadcaster ‘let its standards slip’

More: 100+ complaints about Panti appearance and RTÉ apology

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