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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Youtube/comedy Jason Byrne described the audience as 'knackers'.
irish slang

Jason Byrne was NOT referring to Travellers when he said 'knackers' on the Late Late

The BAI agreed with RTÉ that the word has a broader meaning.

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland have decided that comedian Jason Byrne was not referring to the Traveller community when he used the word ‘knackers’ on The Late Late Show.

The decision is one of five different complaints made against RTÉ that were rejected in the BAI’s latest round of decisions.

The incident in question occurred in a December episode of the show when Byrne was asked by presenter Ryan Tubridy about his appearance at the Royal Variety Performance in the UK. Byrne responded:

Yeah, it’s the hardest gig you’ll ever do because when they say “My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome,” they mean it. There’s like – you know the way this [referring to the Late Late audience] is full of knackers and tramps here. I mean that’s a how’ya audience. Tickets and free stuff, deadly, give me more free stuff. You don’t get it at the Royal Variety Show.

A complaint was subsequently made to the BAI alleging that Byrne’s comment was “a clear reference to the Traveller community”.

The complainant, a member of the community himself, added that Tubridy did not point out that Byrne’s comments were unacceptable, something which he said “created a culture of acceptability”.

But RTÉ denied that Byrne was referring to the Traveller community arguing that, while the choice of the term was “regrettable” and is often used in a pejorative way towards the community, it has come to have a wider meaning in society:

It is also true however that the word has another, distinct and much more general meaning in everyday Irish speech which is not directed toward or signifying Travellers, as common Irish slang for people who are uncouth, gougers, ne’er-do-wells.

RTÉ’s response to the complaint also adds that Byrne’s comments were “jocular” in nature and part of his verbal delivery which is “fast and informal and often colloquial”.

The BAI agreed, saying that ‘knacker’ is identified by them as a word which has the potential to cause offence towards Travellers but that it also has a wide meaning which was intended in this case.

The committee found that the comment was on this occasion directed at the audience rather than at the Traveller community, rejecting the complaint as a result.


The one complaint that was upheld by the BAI was one made on behalf of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign about an edition Rebel Radio on Cork City Community Radio.

The programme featured a representative from the Irish4Israel organisation and the BAI decided that his contributions were not adequately examined or questioned by the presenter in the absence of an alternative voice.

Read the BAI’s decisions in full here > 

Read: BAI says that Bryan Dobson wasn’t being biased when he called protestors ‘idiots’ >

Read: Complaint over “unfair” Liveline funeral mass discussion upheld >

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