Northern Ireland news

Stephen Nolan apologises for handling of 2014 Irish language-related segment on tv show

BBC NI radio presenter, Stephen Nolan and Niall Ó Donnghaile during the TV programme
Marie Louise McConville

A SINN Féin senator who accused BBC NI of "showing disrespect" to the Irish language community yesterday accepted an apology from Stephen Nolan who he claimed mocked him on his TV show in 2014.

Niall Ó Donnghaile said he hoped "lessons are learnt" after Nolan apologised live on air during his morning radio programme yesterday on Radio Ulster.

The apology related to an issue that arose on a Nolan Live TV show.

The programme was discussing how the DUP's Gregory Campbell had mocked the Irish phrase ‘go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle’ (Thank you, Speaker) when he began an address to the assembly with the phrase “curry my yoghurt, can Cola Cola-yer".

The East Derry MP was barred from addressing the assembly for a day for failing to apologise for the parody.

In the wake of the furore Mr Ó Donnghaile appeared on Nolan to discuss the incident.

However he hit out at what he described as "disrespect shown to me and the Irish language community" on the show when Nolan repeated the parodied remarks.

Describing it as "totally unacceptable" he said the repetition of the remarks "bordered on racist baiting".

"This was an insult to me and to an entire community and I don't think this would be acceptable in any other area in which the BBC operates."

A petition calling for Stephen Nolan to apologise was also launched with more than 10,400 signatures gathered.

Actor John Connors turned down an appearance on the BBC saying he was "disgusted" at Stephen Nolan's attitude to the Irish language.

Yesterday, a caller to the Nolan Radio Ulster programme challenged the presenter to apologise to Mr Ó Donnghaile for his handling of the issue on his TV show six years ago.

Initially saying the matter happened a "long, long time ago", Nolan however added: "I do not think I should have presented that programme the way I did. I am sorry for any offence that I caused and I have no problem saying that."

Following the statement, Niall Ó Donnghaile tweeted: "I acknowledge this morning’s apology from @StephenNolan for his now infamous mocking of me & the Irish language on his TV show.

"Better had it come much sooner & directly to me. I hope lessons are learnt for both the presenter & @BBCnireland on how to deal with #Gaeilge in future."

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