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RTÉ 'disappointed' by Dublin Pride decision to end media partnership

"We hope that we will once again get the opportunity to continue to develop our partnership with Dublin Pride"

Dublin Pride flags and umbrellas on Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA).

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

RTÉ has said it is disappointed that Dublin Pride has ended its media partnership with the broadcaster, adding that they will “continue to stand with our LGBTQ+ staff and the wider community”.

Yesterday Dublin Pride terminated its media partnership with RTÉ “with immediate effect” due to what it termed “unacceptable, triggering and extremely harmful anti-trans discussions” on Joe Duffy’s Liveline.

In a statement issued this morning, RTE said it was disappointed with the decision "to end a partnership we had developed together with a range of bodies over the last three years".

"Standing with the LGBTQ+ community, during Pride month sends an important signal that RTÉ is here to serve everyone," the statement reads.

“Over the last three years RTÉ has sought to include these communities and extend understanding through a range of specially produced content, campaigns and partnerships,” the statement reads.

“Public discussion - sometimes uncomfortable, difficult, and contentious - is central to RTÉ’s prescribed purpose. RTÉ is acutely aware that discussions on issues such as gender and identity are deeply personal to many.

“It is important we listen to them, their families and those close to them, and it is also important that we allow our audiences engage with and understand the issues involved.

“RTÉ will, consistent with its statutory obligations, respond to any formal complaints concerning the broadcasts."

The LGBGTQ+ community said that it was “angered and disappointed” with recent discussions around trans people on the RTÉ Radio 1 show and said, “as Ireland’s national broadcaster, we expect better than for RTÉ to stoke the flames of anti-trans rhetoric”.

“Over the past three years, we have worked together with the national broadcaster to increase positive representation of LGBTQ+ on TV, radio and online, and to see the good work of so many people undone is saddening in the extreme and negates much of the efforts made to date.

“It breaches trust with our community and causes untold hurt,” a statement from Dublin Pride said on Tuesday evening.

Dublin Pride also said it expected a statement from RTÉ around how it “will make amends for this situation and are committed to continuing the fight for equality, fairness and respect for all members of the LGBTQ+ family”.

This is the second time Dublin Pride has terminated its partnership with RTÉ. It last terminated the partnership in 2014 due to the ‘Pantigate’ incident when the broadcaster paid damages to six people following comments made by Rory O'Neill, also known as drag performer Panti Bliss, during the course of an interview on The Saturday Night Show.

The partnership was rekindled in 2019 as Dublin Pride with the organisation saying: “In all our meetings with RTÉ, we were very clear, we had not forgotten and we demanded better from our national broadcaster.”

It said this was “an opportunity for RTÉ to fulfil a responsibility they have to our community”.

"They approached us, looking to build a partnership. We get no money from this partnership when we were asked what we wanted in return, we were very clear ‘tell the story of real people in our community’.”

The Dublin Pride parade is due to take place on Saturday June 25, and the Dublin Pride website has already removed the RTÉ logo from its official partners section.

Joe Duffy was forced to apologise last year to a contributor to Liveline after an outburst by another caller on his show in which she included a string of insults against a contributor named Laoise.

While discussing this topic and the issues faced by transgender people, Laoise was called a number of names by another caller who didn’t agree with her stance.

Duffy interrupted the insults by shouting: "No, no! None of that language on this show! No, no!", before cutting the caller off and the show cut to an ad break.

Returning after the break, Duffy apologised to his caller for cutting her off, saying he doesn’t have the ability to do this, but his producer does and he asked them to do so.

The RTE statement issued this morning adds that the broadcaster will “continue to stand with our LGBTQ+ staff and the wider community during Pride month and beyond”.

“In time, we hope that we will once again get the opportunity to continue to develop our partnership with Dublin Pride,” the statement reads.

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