Australian journalist says comment on Irish in Sydney was ‘a joke’

Social media post by Josh Massoud has been criticised as racist and offensive

Coogee Beach is a popular location for Irish people living in Australia. Photograph: Getty Images

Coogee Beach is a popular location for Irish people living in Australia. Photograph: Getty Images

 

An Australian journalist whose comment about Irish people living in a Sydney suburb caused uproar on social media has said the post was “a joke” and he will not be apologising for it.

Josh Massoud, a journalist with 7 News Sydney posted a picture to his Instragram and Twitter accounts on Sunday of a beach in the Sydney suburb of Coogee that had been severely damaged during storms over the weekend.

Mr Massoud captioned a picture of the devastated beach, “Coogee demolished over the weekend and for a pleasant change the Irish aren’t to blame.”

Coogee is a popular area among Irish people living in Australia.

The comment has been heavily criticised, with many calling the post racist and offensive.

Mr Massoud’s comment was retweeted by his employer 7 News Sydney, but was later deleted from the news organisation’s account.

The post is still available on Mr Massoud’s social media accounts. Replying to a request for comment from The Irish Times, Mr Massoud explained the reason for his post.

Coogee demolished over the weekend and for a pleasant change the Irish aren't to blame.

A photo posted by Josh Massoud (@joshm1977) on

“The post is a joke. Having visited your country numerous times, I’m intrigued by the reaction.

“Both overseas and here in Australia, the Irish have always impressed me as light-hearted, fun-loving people whose self-deprecating wit is highly endearing.

No Time For Work by George Ryan is one of my favourite Irish books because it captures all these qualities in one hilarious narrative. I hope not too much has changed since it was published almost 40 years ago.

“But if I’ve misjudged the capacity of some individuals to have a laugh, to not equate banter with racism, then so be it.

“As your home grown current affairs programs have frequently highlighted, young Irish people have are just as likely to have a good time in Sydney’s eastern suburbs as anywhere on the planet. Good luck to them. I’d love to be young again.

“So that was the basis of the joke. Nothing more, nothing less. Some people are clearly offended and that is their right. I respect that. If some people take a literal interpretation, that is their choice and right as well. Whatever comes my way as a result, I cannot control.

Mr Massoud says that to apologise would be “disingenuous”.

“Sure I could delete the post and apologise. But if it takes almost two days to say sorry, how can that possibly be sincere? Is that what people really need to feel better these days?

“A disingenuous apology designed to address the response, but not the original action that created it?

“I hope we are more sophisticated than that. I hope we can still be mature enough to agree to disagree about subjective matters, such as whether a solitary social media post is amusing, offensive, or not even worth the oxygen that’s been exhausted on debating it.”

Many however did not view the post as humorous.

One Instagram user said the post was “Offensive and upsetting”, while another said, “If a similar comment had been made about other nationalities or minorities there would be uproar but here it’s ok to insult 100’s of 1000’s of Irish living here and 4 million more at home. Ignorance at its finest.”

One Twitter user described the comment as “casual racism at its best!! Shame on you. Completely.”