RTÉ today issued a formal apology for a joke made during a Waterford Whispers news segment on New Year's Eve about God making unwanted sexual advances on the Virgin Mary.
The joke, aired as part of RTÉ's New Year's Eve programming, was read by Aengus Mac Grionna at part of a satirical news report. Mac Grionna read the following joke:
“In yet another shocking revelation this year God became the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals. The five billion year old stood accused of forcing himself on a young Middle-Eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will before being sentenced to two years in prison with the last 24 months suspended.”
The clip was the subject of thousands of complaints from viewers, including many prominent members of the Irish Catholic church.
1. I am shocked that producer/editor of 'NYE Countdown Show' @RTE @RTEOne didn’t realise how deeply offensive was a mocking 'news report' accusing God of rape & reporting his imprisonment. This outrageous clip should be removed immediately & denounced by all people of goodwill.
— Eamon Martin (@ArchbishopEamon) January 1, 2021
Mac Grionna apologised for any offense caused yesterday. In issuing their apology, RTÉ affirmed their commitment to satire.
"Satire is an important part of the offering to our audience. However, satire, no more than any other aspect of our output, must adhere to our own standards and the standards set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Codes."
Dee Forbes, director general of RTÉ, added:
"We accept the findings of the Editorial Standards Board that this sketch was not compliant with our own guidelines or with our obligations under the relevant codes.
"On behalf of RTÉ, I fully apologise for that. We will now review the processes involved and engage constructively with the BAI."