Leo Varadkar says he hopes RTE and Pride organisers can ‘sort out' differences

The Tanaiste said “a lot of members of the trans community are very upset” about the Liveline radio discussions.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said that he hopes RTE and Pride organisers can “come together again and sort it out” in relation to criticism of an on-air discussion about trans issues.

Dublin Pride announced on Tuesday the termination of its media partnership with RTE after voicing concern about recent discussions on transgender topics on the Liveline radio show.

The organisation, which organises the annual Pride programme of events in the city, said it was “angered and disappointed” by the content of the radio debates, claiming they had breached trust with the LGBTQ+ community and caused “untold hurt”.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin on Thursday, Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar said “a lot of members of the trans community are very upset” about the Liveline discussion.

“These are very sensitive issues, these are very personal issues. We should talk about them and debate them.

“But if we are talking about issues that relate to trans people or any minority group, it’s important that they’re part of the debate and part of the conversation, and they felt that they were left out of that.”

In a statement to the PA news agency on Thursday, RTE said it had received five formal complaints about the Liveline discussions on trans issues, along with 86 emails, of which it said 54 were positive and 32 were negative.

Ten calls were made to the RTE Information Office, of which three were positive and seven were negative.

The national broadcaster said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “disappointed” that Dublin Pride was severing the three-year relationship, and that it hoped “in time” it would rekindle the relationship.

“Standing with the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month sends an important signal that RTE is here to serve everyone and over the last three years RTE has sought to include these communities and extend understanding through a range of specially-produced content, campaigns and partnerships.

“Public discussion – sometimes uncomfortable, difficult and contentious – is central to RTE’s prescribed purpose.”

The head of RTE Radio One Peter Woods said on Wednesday that he accepted and regrets that the Liveline programmes caused hurt.

He added: “Everything that goes out on air on Radio One is not going to be to everybody’s satisfaction all the time.

“But what matters most in what we do is how we approach it and why we do it, and that we try to shine a light and we try to engage with people, and we try to express a variety of opinion across the airwaves.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access