Media watchdog rejects complaint over 'crude' Oliver Callan comments about 1916 leader

Listener takes issues with comedian's reference to Joseph Clarke's genitals

Media watchdog rejects complaint over 'crude' Oliver Callan comments about 1916 leader

Oliver Callan | File photo: PA Images

A complaint over language used by comedian Oliver Callan to describe Easter Rising leader Thomas Clarke has been rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

In its decision, the BAI said comments made on the February 6th show of RTÉ’s Callan’s Kicks were neither an infringement of community standards nor presented without context.

Listener Liam O’Mahony had complained to the media watchdog about what he felt were "extremely crude and juvenile" references to the 1916 leader, including a remark about his genitals.

Mr O’Mahony said Mr Clarke gave his life for Ireland and should not have been the subject of such disparaging remarks.

In its response, RTÉ described Callan’s Kicks as a "humorous programme charged with satirising and poking fun at public figures".

The broadcaster stated that the line "was Thomas Clarke’s langer not that big in real life?" should be taken as a satirical remark on contemporary political figures rather than a jibe about Mr Clarke.

RTÉ said the comment was made in response to a suggestion by one of the show's characters that the programme Rebellion was filled with inaccuracies.

It said Mr Callan had referred to the "assumed representation of the penis" of a 1916 leader but insisted that this did not constitute a disparagement of either Mr Clarke or his ideals.

The target of the sketch was rather the modern Fianna Fáil party, it said.

RTÉ added that adult listeners can expect such language from a satirical show such as Callan’s Kicks.

The BAI executive complaints forum unanimously rejected the complaint.

It noted that the context for the sketch was a discussion of Fianna Fáil’s electoral strategy, which was portrayed as disorganised.

It also rejected a complaint from the same listener about the accuracy of Rebellion’s portrayal of Éamon de Valera.

The complainant had taken issue with the programme’s suggestion that the former president and taoiseach had faced a firing squad following the Easter Rising.

He felt Mr de Valera's memory had been "deliberately denigrated" by the depiction of him vomiting when he heard that his death sentence had been commuted.

In its response, RTÉ said Rebellion was clearly presented to viewers as a fictionalised, dramatic account of the rebellion.

The view that Mr de Valera’s portrayal belittled his memory is an entirely subjective one, it said.