The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has rejected five complaints it received following last year’s Rose of Tralee, but upheld in part a complaint against a Dublin radio station over a phone-in show on abortion and fatal foetal abnormalities.
Most of the complaints against the Rose of Tralee concerned the contribution of Maigan Kennedy, the North Carolina Rose who, according to one complainant, “was allowed to ridicule, make fun of, and generally rubbish the Irish Roman Catholic Mass”.
Ms Kennedy had compared Mass to going to the gym, in that it involves repeated acts of sitting down and standing up, with the reward of a “biscuit” at the end.
Complainants also took offence to Dáithí Ó Sé asking if the ‘biscuit’ — the Eucharistic Host — was gluten-free.
Two complaints also concerned Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins, who called for a referendum on the eighth amendment.
The BAI rejected complaints against Ms Kennedy’s contribution. It said: “While noting that her comments were irreverent and humorous and that some audience members may have been offended, participants in a programme have the right to their views and the right to frame their own experiences in their own words.”
It said it does not believe her comments, or those of Mr Ó Sé, “were of a nature that they would cause widespread offence and could be considered to stigmatise, support, or condone discrim-ination against people on the basis of their religion”.
One complainant said Ms Parkins’ comments on the eighth amendment “constituted unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of the Irish democracy”.
“That the subject of the eighth amendment was deliberately put on the agenda for group discussion in the judging sessions prior to the RTÉ presentation was a tacit promotion of abortion by RTÉ and the judging panel,” stated the complaint.
The BAI said it considered Ms Parkins’ comment “to be the expression of a personal opinion made in the context of a light entertainment interview”.
A complaint by a woman who appeared on Dublin’s 98FM’s Dublin Talks programme to tell the story of her and her husband’s decision to terminate her pregnancy following a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality was upheld in part.
The complainant said the show allowed callers on air to make “several hurtful and grossly offensive comments”, including one man who called her honesty into question and asked her “is this just a Walter Mitty pro-abortion story?”
The BAI ruled that “by permitting the caller to direct these remarks to the complainant and by leaving this caller on air while ending the call with the complainant, the programme makers had failed to deal fairly with the complainant”.
The programme makers “failed to take appropriate action so as to avoid undue offence to audiences and to the complainant”, it said.
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