Belfield FM apologise over comments concerning the Traveller community made on 'Up Late With Dave'

Management at Belfield FM released a statement on 22nd March, apologising for comments made about Pavee Point directors, Martin Collins and Ronnie Fay, on a live interview with actor John Connors, which took place on Wednesday 13th March.

The comments are thought to have been defamatory and slanderous, with one listener from the Traveller community commenting that "[the station] should have done better “fact-checking” before allowing them to be broadcast."

Belfield FM’s statement accepted “that statements made about Pavee Point, Martin Collins, and Ronnie Fay, were entirely incorrect and unfair.” The station also wished to “apologise for any hurt and distress which may been have caused.”

The podcast, an episode of “Up Late with Dave” presented by David O'Sullivan, has been deleted from Belfield FM’s online listening-back service, Mixcloud, as has all promotional material relating to it. The podcast is not on the official Belfield FM timetable, and it is unclear how the broadcast was arranged and given editorial approval for broadcast. The most recently available iteration of “Up Late with Dave” on Mixcloud was published over a year ago and concerned the SU elections. Belfield FM refused to elaborate on how the broadcast came about or indeed any actions or sanctions which “may or may not be taken”. The podcast's host has not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

In a subsequently deleted cached page, seen by this newspaper, the show was advertised as a discussion of discrimination faced by the travelling community, featuring an interview with John Connors. Connors, Love/Hate actor and an outspoken member of the Traveller community, refused to reply to this newspaper on requests for comment.

Collins, one of those apologised to, indicated that the " slanderous comments" in question were made by Connors, with both his organisation and him personally being used as "a target for [somebody] else's negative energy". Of his contribution in building Pavee Point he said he was "very proud" and that "it is always easier to knock something than to build something".

These comments were made in an interview between Collins and O'Sullivan on Belfield FM, published on 1st April. The interview was organised "to ensure [Pavee Point] had a right of reply." Although he thanked the station for their "very prompt response" in organising the interview, he refused to answer more specific questions from the University Observer regarding this matter.

Belfield FM are continuing enquiries into the circumstances which led to the broadcast. The review which they hope to complete “speedily”, will, according to station management, allow them to learn lessons and get some practical take homes from any mistakes made.

This is not the first time that the society has had to issue an apology for comments made during an on-air broadcast. Keepin' it Country was removed from the radio station's broadcasting timetable and online Mixcloud account in the final week of semester one, after members were found to be in breach of the membership agreement. An article published in the College Tribune called into criticism a portion of the show which had the hosts read out crude listener-submitted messages about women and in relation to the sexual experiences of named students.

Updated 4th April; To include comments made by Martin Connors in his interview with Belfield FM.