Credit: Gript

Rural TDs say RTE ‘God rape joke’ calls funding/accountability into question 

Rural Independent Group TD’s Carol Nolan and Mattie McGrath have both outlined their concerns around RTE’s decision to air a controversial New Year’s Eve programme that portrayed God as the rapist of a young middle eastern immigrant. Carol Nolan went on to say that she has also written to RTÉ Director Dee Forbes.

Speaking to Gript, the Laois Offaly TD said, “I think it is important at the outset to note that freedom of speech is a foundational value that all of us cherish. No one wants to live in a society where every word is open to censorship or where challenging ideas cannot be expressed.”

“But it is an entirely different matter when our national broadcaster utilises the horror of rape as a means to deliberately and specifically target the core religious beliefs of a large proportion of the population, and then has the gall to turn around and expect those same people to fund the organisation. It is an incredible and disrespectful abuse of power.”

“The so called ‘comedy’ sketch did not even have the redeeming feature of being funny. It was crass, juvenile, and sectarian rubbish that took cheap shots at Christianity during one of its holiest seasons because it knew it would get away with it.

We have to be honest here. If RTE had aired a segment attacking the core beliefs of any other faith or minority there would have been a stampede of virtue signalling groups and politicians to have everyone involved fired.” That is certainly not what I am asking for here, but I am seeking meaningful accountability instead of patently disingenuous ‘apologies.’

Meanwhile Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath noted that RTÉ is in receipt of “exclusive state funding each year through the television licence fee. In 2018 this figure was €189 million, and the amount will be over €200 million this year. Given the extraordinary distasteful nature of this broadcast, coupled with the stations flippant apology which illustrated no acknowledgement of error or any commitment to avoid this from happening again, I believe it is now time to scrutinise the allocation of this funding and decide whether RTÉ should have an ongoing unquestionable right to be the only recipient.”

“Ireland has many other excellent and responsible broadcasting providers at both local and national level. Thus, I believe it is now time to share out this funding on a more equitable basis.”

“Any special treatment afforded to RTÉ must cease and the public interest must be protected in doing so. It is no longer tenable to protect RTÉ as some sort of sacred cow, simply because they offer special coverage for the government of the day.”

The Rural Group TD’s said that they have contacted repeatedly by constituents who are angered and shocked at what they see as the weaponisation of RTE’s taxpayer protected status to advance a blatantly biased cultural agenda.

 

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