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Comic relief

Explainer: How Dustin the Turkey drew the ire of a legion of Niall Horan fans on Friday

A startling number of tweets now contain the hashtag #RTERayShowRespectNiallHoran.

Tweet by @Dustin The Turkey Dustin The Turkey / Twitter Dustin The Turkey / Twitter / Twitter

IN A REMINDER – if we needed one – that pretty much anything can turn into a Twitter row, Dustin the Turkey responded last night to the apparent fury over an innocuous enough joke he made on RTÉ on Friday.

He tweeted: “Lads… I’m a lover* not a fighter. I love @NiallOfficial. I love Americans. I love The Craic. #BeKind *just ask @KimKardashian.”

And where did this come from?

Well, the Niall referred to above is former One Direction superstar and Mullingar native Niall Horan. 

On RTÉ One on Friday evening, a star-studded lineup saw Irish creative talent campaign to raise money for charity. 

RTÉ does Comic Relief raised €5.5 million, and 1.4 million people tuned in at some stage on the evening.

It featured the likes of Derry Girls and an enjoyable crossover of Fleabag and Normal People. 

It also featured Horan perform the song Black and White on The Den’s Talent on the Telly segment. 

However, he was interrupted by the irrepressible turkey half way through the song and said: “We wanted Harry Styles [another One Direction member]. You’re only getting a minute-and-a-half. I didn’t realise people from Mullingar had teeth.”

As the clip was put online and started to go viral, a whole host of Horan fans – particularly across the pond – who’ve never heard of Dustin and believed it was a serious attempt to have a go at him were outraged.

A fan page on Twitter with over 100,000 followers said that “what they did to Niall was extremely disrespectful and rude”, adding it was “uncalled for” and “gross”.

This kind of chatter set the tone for much of the backlash with “respect Niall Horan” (all in capital letters) a common refrain. 

The hashtag #RTERayShowRespectNiallHoran has appeared in a a startling number of tweets. 

This backlash, however, triggered an equal and opposite reaction among Irish Twitter users pointing out that Horan was very much in on the joke and we’ve been accustomed to such humour from Dustin for decades.

Ray D’Arcy also came in for some flak for his role in the affair on the Den, and fellow RTÉ presenter Joe Duffy lampooned the situation earlier today on Liveline.

“Ray is not on today [his 3pm slot was taken by Kathyrn Thomas], because he’s in hiding because of the comments made by Dustin about Niall Horan which were completely outrageous,” Duffy said.

So, there’s no Ray for the foreseeable future which is a terrible casualty given the whole thing was so funny.

The tweet above on how he’s about a “lover not a fighter” shows how Dustin responded in a very typical way to the furore. And we’re sure to see him back again.

As he told last week: “I’m gonna look good on Friday though, I’m gonna get my beak painted. I survived the bird flu, I’ve survived god knows how many Christmases now but you know it’s something I’ll look forward to and I’m hoping we’ll do it justice. Because sometimes things shouldn’t come back, a bit like Pat Kenny.”

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