Today FM producer brands reaction ‘crazy’

THE radio producer subjected to garda questioning over the Brian Cowen paintings has branded the Government’s reaction to the incident as “crazy“.

Will Hanafin, producer of the Ray D’Arcy Show on Today FM, found himself at the end of a Garda quizzing after revealing on air that the mystery artist who caused the stir had been in contact with the station, firstly through a friend back in January and then early this week when the controversy over his work erupted.

“A garda arrived at the station, badge on display, on official business and asked for the email contact details for the artist and when I refused he said he could get a warrant to search the station’s email,” Mr Hanafin said.

Mr Hanafin said the garda, who had one of the two paintings — the one sneaked into the Royal Hibernian Academy depicting Mr Cowen holding his underpants — wrapped in bubblewrap under his arm, was “sheepish and apologetic” but he said he had orders from “on high” to investigate the incident.

The long-time producer and journalist said a third, more risque picture had originally been emailed to the station featuring a full frontal nude caricature of the Taoiseach urinating which has so far not been seen publicly.

But he said regardless of the fact that the paintings were unflattering, the Government’s reaction was excessive.

“The most important thing is that the gardaí are involved in this. The Taoiseach is a public figure and he should be able to take it.”

Mr Hanafin said from his dealings with artist Conor Casby, the accidental celebrity was shocked by the controversy. In a statement, Mr Casby had told the station he hadn’t been looking for money or publicity but only to let the pictures speak for themselves.

On the station’s Last Word programme yesterday evening, presenter Matt Cooper challenged Fianna Fáil TD Michael Kennedy — who had released a statement asking the director general of RTÉ to consider his position — to explain why the Government felt the need to bring the law into play.

Mr Kennedy conceded his own objections were based on his concerns about how he thought Mr Cowen’s wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law must have felt seeing the paintings but he insisted there was no formal Government complaint to the gardaí and no request for an apology from RTÉ.

He said he did not wish to bring down the weight of the law on Mr Casby. “The only issue I have is that it was on prime time news,” he said. “I personally would not be calling in the gardaí.”

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