Tiernan defends ‘offensive’ act

CONTROVERSIAL comedian Tommy Tiernan faced down a barrage of angry Liveline callers to defend new material in which he mimics people with disabilities, saying it was “just a bit of craic”.

Following an appearance on last Friday night’s Late Late Show, on which he aired the sketch in conversation with Gerry Ryan, Mr Tiernan said he was sorry if some people didn’t like the material, but stopped short of apologising for it.

Answering a range of complaints from irate callers, Mr Tiernan said “it did no harm to anyone”.

“I usually let things like this go but thought I’d get involved in this one,” he said.

“I am very sensitive to the pain that people go through and do not want to cause more hurt to people but my job is not to take things too seriously.”

Mr Tiernan said he knew someone who was paralysed from the neck down.

“He said the one thing that keeps him going is humour, and that it is a very important part of survival.

“It is not done in a mocking way, but as a release for people. I understand some people don’t appreciate that,” he said.

“Whether it serves a function or not I do not know,” he said.

“My last show sold out to 120,000 people and there were only 10 complaints.

One caller to Joe Duffy’s show, Niall, said he was absolutely disgusted and livid, and was still in two minds whether or not to take it further or not.

“I sustained a serious head injury and am lucky to be alive — my best friend was killed in the accident,” he said. “For Tommy Tiernan to come out and mimic a person with physical disabilities, and specifically those at the National Rehabilitation Centre, is extremely offensive and rude.”

Another caller said it was hurtful and in poor taste.

“Did this guy ever go into the rehab centre because there is nothing funny about being maimed for life.

“He implied he bought a bike and then spoke like someone who was maimed. Nobody should be making a joke of this.”

A female with a disability called the show to say she thought people needed to “lighten up”.

“I find it very therapeutic. People with disabilities need to get back on the road to positivity,” she said.

It’s not the first time the sharp-tongued comedian has been in hot water over his routines.

Last year Mr Tiernan refused to drop material aimed at people with Down Syndrome, despite pressure from offended families.

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