BBC apologises for broadcasting anti-Irish joke

Posted By: August 22, 2014

By Niall O Sullivan on August 21, 2014


> on March 2, 2010 in London, England.

THE BBC has apologised for broadcasting an anti-Irish joke on its flagship Scottish news programme.

One family told The Irish Post they were “gobsmacked” to hear the slur as they sat down to watch the news on Tuesday evening.

“I thought it was absolutely disgusting to see that your own national broadcaster would allow this to happen,” said Brendán MacFarlane, who saw the joke alongside his family in their Fife home.

The 20-year-old student added: “To see comments like that about your own ethnic group on the news is so disheartening.”

The joke was broadcast on BBC1’s Reporting Scotland news show during a pre-recorded segment about the ‘funniest joke’ at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

It involved a reporter asking members of the public about what they find funny.

Among the contributions broadcast: “Two Irish guys look in the mirror. One goes: ‘I know that guy.’ The other one goes: ‘I know you do, it’s me you stupid guy.’”

Mr MacFarlane said: “I don’t think any other ethnic group in Scotland would be allowed to be subjected to that type of so-called joke on TV.

“In Scotland people are very careful with what they say about different ethnic groups, but sometimes it seems okay to say things about the Irish because it seems acceptable.”

Responding to the complaint, the BBC apologised for broadcasting the joke.

“During a series of vox-pops a member of the public told a joke which may have offended some viewers. We apologise if any offence was caused,” a spokesperson for the corporation said.

Mr MacFarlane’s father, Ben, has complained to Ofcom, the media watchdog, which is assessing whether to launch an investigation.

“To think that a journalist recorded that and then went back to the editor’s studio and they said ‘that is suitable for inclusion’ is incredible. What kind of decision-making process is that?” he told The Irish Post.

“I am a solicitor in local government and if I were to step out of my office and make that comment about any other race I would be on a warning and potentially sacked.”