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RTÉ defends plans to feature Graham Linehan in Prime Time report on transgender issues

Over 4,000 people have signed a petition opposing the appearance of the Father Ted co-writer.

Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Images

RTÉ HAS DEFENDED its plans to feature Father Ted co-writer Graham Linehan on Prime Time tomorrow night, as part of a report on transgender issues in Ireland.

The decision to feature Linehan on the show led to the creation of a petition calling for the comedy writer to be removed from the debate. At the time of writing the petition had over 4,000 signatures.

The creator of the petition has taken issue with views Linehan has shared on the topic via his Twitter feed and says he is not an expert on the subject. 

Linehan – also behind series such as Black Books and the IT Crowd – frequently comments on transgender issues via social media. 

In an excerpt from the programme’s interview with Linehan, broadcast at the end of last Thursday’s programme, he says: ”You do not tell kids that they’ve been born into the wrong body just as you don’t tell anorexics that they are fat.”   

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, RTÉ said tomorrow’s edition of Prime Time will examine “the exponential growth in the number of young people seeking to change gender, and the implications of the proposed new law allowing them to do so without their parents’ consent”. 

The Oireachtas passed the Gender Recognition Act in 2015, which allows individuals to apply through the Department of Social Protection for certificates so they can be legally recognised by the State under the gender they identify.

A report last year showed that just under 300 people had been issued with gender recognition certificates up to the end of 2017.

A review of this act last July commissioned by the government recommended reforming the process to allow children to have their gender legally recognised under a number of conditions.

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The comedy writer received a verbal harassment warning from UK police last year after a transgender activist made a complaint over comments he’d made on social media.

Linehan told the BBC at the time that the police had phoned him and told him to stay away – but that he had no intention of speaking to the activist. 

RTÉ has said that its programme will ask “how society should treat ‘female-only’ spaces in the light of the growth in the number of transgender people”.

“We are confident that viewers will find the programme to be a fair and responsible examination of an issue of considerable public importance,” it added.

The broadcaster also said that it wouldn’t be commenting on any feedback it had received from members of the public regarding Linehan’s appearance on the programme. 

Linehan was an early adopter of the Twitter platform and currently has over 650,000 followers. 

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Sean Murray

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