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'Not all characters are angels': Shane MacGowan responds to Fairytale of New York controversy

The Pogues frontman has explained why he included offensive terms in the song.

SHANE MACGOWAN has responded to the controversy surrounding The Pogues’ classic Christmas song Fairytale of New York.

Debate around the use of the word “faggot” in the iconic song has rumbled on for several years and it returned to the headlines this week when two RTÉ 2FM DJs raised objections to the festive hit.

Eoghan McDermott, who presents a show at 4pm on weekdays, said he asked two gay members of his team how they felt about it and one favoured censoring the song while the other didn’t want to play it at all.

McDermott’s comment was supported by presenter Stephen Byrne who revealed how he felt when he heard the song played in a club: “I stood in a room as over 200 people screamed a word that’s been used to make me feel like an outsider, with such joy and cheer”.

In a statement to Virgin Media MacGowan, who wrote the song in 1987, explained why he included the offensive term.

“The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character,” he wrote.

She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate. 

“Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend! She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively,” he continued.

The musician said that he is “absolutely fine” with the word being censored and added that he doesn’t want to get into an argument.

Yesterday RTÉ confirmed that it will continue to play the song uncensored as it has done since its release.

McDermott issued a response on Twitter this morning clarifying his earlier comments: 
“I get the dysfunctional characters and mayhem and trading of insults. My point was we beep out relatively harmless words all the time on radio to appease literally everyone,” he said.

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