This is the text of the letter sent by our chairman to the RTE Complaints Department


Dear Sir/Madam

We refer to the NYE Countdown Show fronted by Kathryn Thomas and Deirdre O’Kane broadcast on 31/12/2020 that contained two items described as ‘Waterford Whispers’ news reports, presented by former RTÉ News presenter Aengus MacGrianna. In one of these ‘Waterford Whispers’ news reports God is described as being ‘the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals’ and uses further language that implies unlawful impregnation by God of a Middle Eastern woman etc. The offensive passage was broadcast between  45 mins 28 secs and 45 mins 50 secs into the programme as measured on the RTE Player recording that is currently available at .

We hereby complain and submit that what was broadcast in this particular piece is prima facie:

  1. Deeply, grossly and unreasonably offensive to Christian citizens of the State among whom we the complainants number ourselves.
    1. In its intentional ridicule of Almighty God in a manner that was known or should have been known to RTE to be grossly offensive to Christian believers as follows:
      1. In its portrayal of Almighty God as a foolish and immoral elderly rapist caricature figure in the acted out part of the sketch that accompanied the so called news item that was deliberately made in a manner that Christians through the centuries have regarded as blasphemous.
      2. In its obvious allusion to the events of the Virgin pregnancy and birth of Jesus Christ that is so central to the great Christian Feast of Christmas.
      3. In the broadcasting of the same during the octave of Christmas that has only added to the act of offensiveness by RTE to Christian believers.
    2. That such portrayal of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad or the Quran [that also includes the Virgin birth to Maryam the mother of Isa (Jesus)] would never have been broadcast by RTE with similar allusions that would have been offensive to Islam.
  2. A clear breach by RTE of its statutory duty set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009 Section 39 (1) (d):
    • Every broadcaster shall ensure that anything which may reasonably be regarded as causing harm or offence is not unreasonably encroached upon.
    • In choosing to present the item as a news item (albeit satirical), RTE rendered itself subject to the particular provisions of the Act applicable to the broadcasting of news items and this of itself constitutes further grounds for breach of duty by RTE.
  3. Repugnant to the preamble of the Constitution of Irelandadopted by and in the Name of the Irish People and specifically the opening text thereof:
    • In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
      We, the people of Éire,
      Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
      Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
      And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
      Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.
  4. Repugnant to Article 44 .1 of the Constitution:
    • The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.
    • RTE in making the said broadcast failed to hold Almighty God’s Name in reverence and did not respect and honour religion.
    • RTE is an institution of the State and is in duty bound by the Constitution.
  5. A clear breach of BAI Code of Programme Standards Section 42(2)(f) Section 42(2)(g) Section 42(2)(h):
    BROADCASTING CODES SHALL PROVIDE: a broadcaster does not, in the allocation of time for transmitting party political broadcasts, give an unfair preference to any political party, in respect of programme material broadcast by a broadcaster that audiences are protected from harmful or offensive material, in particular, that programme material in respect of the portrayal of violence and sexual conduct, shall be presented by a broadcaster –
    (i) with due sensitivity to the convictions or feelings of the audience, and
    (ii) with due regard to the impact of such programming on the physical, mental or moral development of children,
  6. A breach of its specific duty to children under the above BAI Code by including such material in a New Year’s Eve broadcast that included children in its content knowing that this particular night was the one night of the year that many children stay up late to watch in the New Year with their parents.

We submit that notwithstanding public complaints about the above content, RTE has continued to make the said programme content available on RTE Player which itself is a continuing act of broadcast subject to the aforementioned laws and codes.

We submit that RTE has prima facie a clear case to answer as to whether or not RTE has breached its statutory duty in law including constitutional law or compliance with the Broadcasting Codes on each of the foregoing points and is continuing that breach by having the programme content available on RTE Player.