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Broadcasting watchdog upholds two more complaints against Ray D'Arcy over abortion discussions

It is understood that RTÉ will meet the BAI in January.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland (BAI) has issued a warning notice against RTÉ’s Ray D’Arcy show.

The BAI today released its most recent broadcast complaints decisions, with D’Arcy having the only two upheld.

Both complaints, lodged by a Mr Brendan O’Brien and a Ms Patricia Donohue, refer to an interview with Gaye and Gerry Edwards undertaken on the day that the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) made critical findings in respect of Irish law on abortion.

The interview focused on their experience of the termination of a pregnancy, where a fatal foetal abnormality was present, and their views on the UNHRC findings.

Both complaints argued that the couple had been given “uninterrupted airtime” and that D’Arcy had failed to read out texts and statements from pro-life groups quickly enough. In their response, RTÉ said that the interview “brought listeners their experience of a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality which was followed by termination outside the jurisdiction”.

It added that “it would have been preferable to have mentioned that the interviewees are members of the group Termination for Medical Reasons”.

The BAI said that it was upholding the complaints, both unanimously. It said that the committee “did not agree with the position of the broadcaster that the item was predominantly a human interest story”. They say the interview “was
clearly placed and framed in a news and current affairs context”.

The committee added:

The Committee, having considered this complaint, noted that this was the third occasion on which complaints have been upheld in respect of coverage on this programme of the topic of Irish law in respect of abortion. This is a matter of concern for the Committee.

They issued a warning notice, which is issued where the BAI considers the matter to be of a relatively serious nature or where it is a reoccurrence of the same or a similar matter.

In a statement, RTÉ said:

“RTÉ notes and accepts the decision of the BAI. As required, RTÉ will provide the BAI with a plan to ensure there is no re-occurrence of the issues identified.”

Senator Ronan Mullen said the judgements showed RTÉ had to “to give the public an account of its stewardship”.

It is understood that RTÉ will meet the BAI in January.

Read: We asked Ray D’Arcy about criticism of his Eighth Amendment coverage

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