Taoiseach says controversial column was "misogynistic and anti-Semitic"

Kevin Myers will no longer write for the Irish edition of The Sunday Times following outrage over his article

The Taoiseach says a column by writer Kevin Myers was 'anti-Semitic and misogynistic'.

The piece about equal pay in The Sunday Times Irish edition has been widely criticised for its comments on Jewish people and women.

The paper - which has removed the article from its website - has since apologised, and said Mr Myers would "not write again" for the newspaper.

A printed apology is set to appear in next weekend's paper.

Vanessa Feltz - who, along with Claudia Winkleman, was one of the two BBC presenters referenced in the column - today said the piece was "so obviously racist it's surprisingly hurtful".

Speaking on BBC Radio this morning, she observed: "I would have thought after all these years I'd be immune or used to it, but that's not at all how I felt. I felt extremely upset.

"The apologies are all very well but how did it end up in the paper in the first place?"

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also criticised the column.

He said: "I read the article, and it is misogynistic and anti-Semitic in my view. I think The Sunday Times has taken the appropriate action."

 

A group representing Ireland's Jewish community has, however, come to the defence of the columnist.

The Jewish Representative Council of Ireland says branding the veteran writer an anti-Semite is a "distortion of the facts".

In a statement, the chair of the council says the columnist's comments about two Jewish BBC presenters were "a real error of judgement", and argued that Mr Myers had "inadvertently stumbled into an anti-Semitic trope".

However, Maurice Cohen also suggested: "More than any other Irish journalist, he has written columns about details of the Holocaust over the last three decades that would not otherwise have been known by a substantial Irish audience."

"They should never have carried it"

The Irish Press Council has received 35 complaints - 30 from London and 5 from Ireland - about the article, and has launched an investigation.

Chairman Sean Donlon told Newstalk Drive: "To be fair to The Sunday Times, they have responded in a way that is generally satisfactory. Obviously they made a mistake in the first instance to carry the article which is clearly anti-Semitic and misogynistic - they should never have carried it.

"Having made that mistake, they certainly pulled out all the stops to do what is appropriate. What we will do now is watch further actions which they plan to take in the next few days."

He added: "Of course the individuals who have felt hurt by this also have a line of actions which they can take. They can get in touch initially with the editors. They can get in touch, if they don't get satisfaction from him or her, they can get in touch with the Press Ombudsman here in Ireland."

The Tánaiste, meanwhile, says it’s up to media outlets to ensure articles like the column are not published.

Frances Fitzgerald argued: "I regret that it was published, I have to say, in the first place - but certainly I think now the right action has been taken.

"There's an onus on everyone, including the media obviously, to make sure articles such as that do not appear."