Kielty as charged

Patrick rapped over 'tinkers' jibe

Patrick Kielty has been rapped by Irish broadcasting watchdogs for referring to travellers as ‘tinkers’.

His comments, broadcast on a children’s show co-hosted by the puppet Dustin The Turkey, were ruled offensive by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

On RTE2’s Once A Week Show, he asked: ‘Is it just me but is it mostly just, you know, lorry drivers and tinkers on the Holyhead ferry?’

When co-host Sinéad Ní Churnáin asked, ‘What are tinkers?’ Kielty pointed to her hoop earrings, and said in a mock-traveller accent: ‘Come here missus, come here.’

She said in riposte: ‘I’m only a part time knick-knack.’

Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre complained that the exchange was ‘seriously offensive’ and ‘caused extreme anger, upset and confusion among young travellers who might reasonably expect a Saturday morning children’s entertainment slot to be relatively Free from casual or targeted racism.’

RTÉ argued that the complaint was ‘unreasonable,’ because Kielty’s comments were made in a ‘gentle and non-threatening way’ in a humorous, irreverent show.

The broadcaster added: ‘It is important to state that comedy must be given licence to cause offence on occasions’ – but said there was nothing malicious in Kielty’s comments.

However, the BCC upheld the complaint, saying the jokes were derogatory as: ‘The terms used are known to be offensive.’

Published: 7 Jul 2008

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