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'No harm' RTE's Keith Walsh defends 2FM's Jen after mask debate sparks outrage

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Jennifer Zamparelli faced backlash to a planned debate

Jennifer Zamparelli faced backlash to a planned debate

RTE's 2fm breakfast show presenter Keith Walsh.

RTE's 2fm breakfast show presenter Keith Walsh.

David Conachy

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Jennifer Zamparelli faced backlash to a planned debate

Keith Walsh has defended his former 2FM co-presenter Jennifer Zamparelli from the backlash to her suggested radio segment on mask-wearing.

Jennifer faced a storm of criticism after a Tweet said she would host an "open discussion" on her show about face masks.

She said yesterday morning it had been an "emotional 24 hours" and that she had booked a guest to speak on her show about people who refused to wear masks.

Protest

The suggested discussion on her show came after thousands attended an anti-mask protest in the capital at the weekend.

Fellow broadcaster Keith said yesterday we should be able to discuss the issue in order to understand why people feel so strongly about it.

"Are we that afraid of having a discussion and letting someone come on air and having someone say, 'I don't think we should wear a mask because it's going to give you lung cancer?'

"We can then look up the facts ourselves and ask the doctor or listen to Jim Bob on the radio or you can listen to the health experts.

"I don't think there's any harm in having a discussion on it.

"We have to be able to talk about things. If I'm on Twitter, I don't not follow people because they don't say the same things as me."

The presenter, who was on Breakfast Republic with Jennifer and Bernard O'Shea for five years, revealed this week he is moving on from RTÉ.

He had spent nearly seven years working with the company and said his weekend 2FM show had become a "safety net".

"It's a good time to leave. It was now or never. I'm just going to go and see what happens," he said.

"I had a nice time in 2FM and it offered me lots of opportunities and I didn't want it to drag out.

"I'm too old for 2FM so there was no going back. It's not like I'm going to get the breakfast show again or I'm going to do Drivetime.

"You've got to know when to leave the party. I don't feel like I belong there anymore."

He has two weekends left on 2FM.

Personal

Keith originally studied Theatre in Inchicore College and although he hasn't performed live in years, wrote a deeply-personal one-man play chronicling his own journey with issues relating to mental health.

Entitled Keith Walsh Is...Pure Mental, he will be reuniting with his former class-mate and Abbey actress Janet Moran, who will be directing it.

Produced alongside Riverbank Arts Theatre in Newbridge, he will be touring it in venues around Ireland over coming months.

Herald