Tubridy could have been ‘more careful in choice of words’ in interview – BAI

Presenter said women look ‘better, and young and Irish’ when they remove make-up

Ryan Tubridy was discussing Irish women and make-up. File photograph: RTÉ

Ryan Tubridy was discussing Irish women and make-up. File photograph: RTÉ


The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has said RTÉ host Ryan Tubridy could have been “more careful in his choice of words” during a radio interview about women and make-up.

A complaint, which was rejected by the BAI, was made against the presenter by a woman who said his comments in respect of Irish women during his programme on June 29th “were patronising”.

The complainant said that Tubridy, in discussing women and girls wearing a full face of make-up, “commented on women looking more Irish the day after, when the make-up has been removed,” according to details published by the BAI on Wednesday.

“The complainant is of the view that with the ongoing discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement and on underlying racism in Irish society, this kind of flippant commentary is unacceptable.

“The complainant is of the view that this comment, unfortunately, reinforces a racist perception that correlates lighter skin with beauty and alienates people with darker skin tones from a sense of Irish identity.”

In response, RTÉ said the programme was focused on skin issues for people wearing face masks during the pandemic and that the interview “was light-hearted and in keeping with audience expectation”.

“The broadcaster notes that the complainant is of the view that the presenter referred to people looking ‘more Irish’, however, the presenter did not make this comment,” it said.

“The broadcaster states that when discussing the amount of make-up worn by young Irish women, the presenter commented that when they removed their make-up, they ‘look better and young and Irish’. The broadcaster is of the view that the interviewee and listeners would have understood that the context for the remark was with regard to younger people wearing excessive make-up.”

RTÉ added that there was “no connotation of racism” during the interview and does not believe that the discussion “could be construed to be related to underlying racism in Ireland”.

The BAI’s compliance committee said Tubridy did not refer to anyone as looking “more Irish”, as suggested by the complaint.

“While discussing the way in which young people wear make-up, the presenter noted a contrast between seeing those young people with and without make-up on and commented that young people who are not wearing make-up may look ‘better and young and Irish’,” it said.

The BAI said it was of the view that Tubridy was offering his personal view about young people wearing make-up, rather than a comment on different skin tones.

“The Committee noted that this was a somewhat off-hand remark, however, it is important that broadcasters are aware of the impact of language and the Committee was of the view that the presenter could have been more careful in his choice of words,” it added.

Niall Boylan and Covid-19

Separately, a number of complaints were made against Niall Boylan for remarks he made about Covid-19 during his radio programme on Classic Hits 4FM in May. All of the complaints were rejected by the BAI.

One compliant said that comments made by the presenter “encourages behaviour, which is detrimental to public health and safety, particularly in discussing Covid-19”.

“The complainant is of the view that comments made by the presenter undermine government guidance regarding public health during the current pandemic,” the BAI said.

In response, Classic Hits 4FM said the Niall Boylan Show is a “listener-driven, controversial talk show” which has been broadcast for over eight years.

“The broadcaster is of the view that it has a long-standing audience expectation that the presenter will give his opinion on the subjects which are discussed on a daily basis,” it said.

The radio station said it rejects the assertion that Boylan encourages behaviour detrimental to public health, adding “rather, the presenter reiterated that everyone should follow Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 on several occasions”.

The BAI said it acknowledged the complainant’s concern that some viewpoints could misinform audiences if presented as fact.

“However, it considered that the presenter’s style would be familiar to regular listeners and it was likely that listeners would have understood that the presenter was offering opinions rather than factual information on the various topics,” it concluded.