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More than 100 complaints about Panti appearance and RTÉ apology

The vast majority were from people complaining about the broadcaster’s apology to a number of newspaper columnists and the Iona Institute.

Image: Conor Horgan via Website

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland has received more than 100 complaints about the appearance of Rory O’Neill, aka Panti, on the Saturday Night Show and the subsequent apology by RTÉ.

The BAI confirmed that the “majority” of the complaints are “related to RTÉ’s decision to issue an apology” to a number of people who were mentioned in the initial interview of 11 January.

Others related to reports of compensation paid by the broadcaster.

“The BAI is in the process of acknowledging receipt of these complaints,” a spokesperson told TheJournal.ie.

“The normal complaint process applies where an individual is required to address their complaint to the broadcaster first and, in the event that they are not satisfied with the response received, they can then refer the matter to the BAI.”

On the issue of compensation, she noted that the BAI only considers complaints relating to broadcast content.

Any corporate decision of the broadcaster would not be considered under the broadcasting complaints process.

Following queries by TheJournal.ie, RTÉ said it would not comment on a claim by the Iona Institute that damages are to be paid to individuals as a result of the initial comments.

The presenter of the Saturday Night Show, Brendan O’Connor apologised for any “upset or distress” caused to journalist and broadcaster John Waters, Breda O’Brien and some members of the Iona institute, by comments made by a guest suggesting that they “are homophobic”.

He referred to an interview with O’Neill who spoke about homophobia in Ireland.

During the 25 January show, 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 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.

Protest

Meanwhile, LGBT Noise has said that it will hold a protest at 2pm on Sunday 2 February on South King Street, outside the Gaiety Theatre, on this issue.

The organisation said that the event will be for the LGBT community and supporters to respond to the recent controversy over comments made by LGBT rights advocate O’Neill on the Saturday Night Show.

LGBT Noise said it objects “to post-censoring of Rory O’Neill’s comments, the subsequent apology made by RTE to individuals and the Iona Institute, and the use of TV licence-fees to pay compensation”.

- Additional reporting Aoife Barry

Open Letter to RTE: Explain why you censored gay rights advocate Rory O’Neill

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