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RTE presenter Sean O'Rourke apologises over hunger strikers chuckle

By Jonathan Bell

An RTE presenter has apologised over comments he made about the IRA hunger strikers on the national broadcaster's station Radio 1, which made him laugh.

The presenter sparked outrage on social media over the weekend when during his Friday morning show he quoted an obituary on the former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave following his passing at the age of 97.

Following an interview with Richard O'Rawe on his book In The Name of the Son on the late Gerry Conlon on Monday, the presenter said that he had been reading the author's re-issued Blanketmen book on the hunger strikes of 1981.

"On that point," he told listeners on his Today with Sean O'Rourke show, "I just want to clarify something from Friday's programme.

"I read out a quote from the late Liam Cosgrave, telling the then Cardinal Conway, also now dead, that 'water was too good for the hunger strikers'.

"The point of reading out those words - and they did cause me to laugh - was to highlight how Cosgrave, a devout Catholic, was prepared to dismiss so bluntly the efforts of Church leaders to influence his government’s attitude towards hunger strikers.

"There was a big hunger strike going on in 1977 and it wasn’t in any way by reading out that quote intended to disrespect the prisoners undertaking hunger strike either then or later, I’m sorry for giving that impression to some of our listeners.”

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