BAI rules on several complaints against the Rose of Tralee

Its Compliance Committee received five complaints

BAI rules on several complaints against the Rose of Tralee

Host Dáithí O Sé (centre) runs with the 2016 Rose of Tralee contestants | Image: RTÉ

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has rejected complaints against the 2016 Rose of Tralee.

The BAI Compliance Committee received five complaints from members of the public about the August broadcast.

One complaint was in relation comments made by the North Carolina Rose about the Irish Roman Catholic Mass.

The complainant states the Rose was interviewed and was allowed to “ridicule, make fun of and generally rubbish the Irish Roman Catholic Mass”.

During the programme, the Rose stated that mass was really holy and the act of sitting down and standing up was like going to a gym and being given a 'biscuit' at the end.

The presenter quipped "was it gluten free?".

The complainant states that the Rose said she was a Protestant, but the complainant does not know of any Irish Protestant "who would insult the Catholic religion in this manner".

RTÉ say it was not their intention to cause offence to anyone's religious beliefs and they regret when this occurs.

However, the broadcaster does not agree with the complainant's characterisation of the exchange between the North Carolina Rose and their presenter.

The broadcaster claims the North Carolina Rose gave "a light hearted, humorous and respectful account" of her attendance at mass, coming from the perspective of a member of the Protestant faith.

To describe the brief conversation between the presenter and the Rose as grossly offensive toward the Catholic mass is not a fair description, RTÉ adds.

8th amendment views

Another complaint about the broadcast relates to the issue of the 8th amendment.

The complainant states that the Sydney Rose was allowed to air her views on the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution.

The complaint says she also asked the Irish people to support the repeal of this amendment.

"I think it’s time we give women a say on their own reproductive rights and I would love to see a referendum on the 8th coming up soon", the Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins said.

The broadcaster states that the contribution from the Sydney Rose in relation to the 8th amendment was unscripted and not planned.

2016 Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins poses in a ‘Repeal the 8th’ t-shirt | Image via @parkinsbrea on Twitter

RTÉ also say the production team had no prior knowledge that she was going to make this remark.

"The presenter, immediately after her remarks, proceeded to the next question and this served to move the conversation away from what is a highly contentious matter of public debate", it adds.

While other complaints made against Newstalk and RTÉ were also rejected by the BAI’s Compliance Committee and Executive Complaints Forum.

Complaint partially upheld

However a complaint against Dublin’s 98FM was upheld in part against its 'Dublin Talks' show, which is a talk and phone-in show.

The complaint refers to the treatment of a woman - the complainant - who told her story on-air regarding her decision to terminate a pregnancy following a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

She states that another caller, Jimmy, cross-examined her on her child's burial, and asked whether or not they had a Christian service in a church or in private and queried where the burial had taken place.

The BAI Committee says it had "regard to the facilitation during the programme of a caller who made a range of abusive and offensive remarks against the complainant".

“The complainant should have expected to be questioned on her personal experiences and on any views she may have on broader issues of abortion.

“However, the caller in question repeatedly questioned the complainant’s honesty, made allusions (both direct and indirect) to her complicity in what he considered to be murder (the termination of her child), made suggestions that her story had the quality of a ‘Walter Mitty’ tale of fantasy, queried the burial of her child, stated that she was lying about her experience and implied that she was lying so as to advance the cause of those who favour liberalising Ireland’s abortion law”, the BAI says.

In response, 98FM say it takes issue with the complainant’s characterisation of being forced to go on the show.

“The complainant put her own story into the public domain and the broadcaster found this commendable and that is the reason contact was make to invite the complainant to participate on-air.

“The complainant provided her mobile phone number to the production team and they contacted her through the Facebook page of Terminations for Medical Reasons (TMR),” the broadcaster says.

It also says she was informed that it was a caller-based show, and there would be other callers involved.

It adds that the complainant was given 20 minutes, uninterrupted, to discuss her experience and “the presenter treated her with respect and sensitivity throughout”.

At its meeting held in December 2016, the Compliance Committee of the BAI considered eight complaints.

It upheld one complaint in part and rejected seven others.