Row over deroga­tory word in clas­sic Christ­mas song

The Herald - - NEWS - RE­BECCA BLACK

IT reg­u­larly tops the lists of favourite Christ­mas songs but The Pogues’ big­gest hit has caused con­tro­versy over one of its lyrics.

But Ir­ish broad­caster RTE has said it will not cen­sor the word “fag­got” from the gritty Christ­mas hit Fairytale Of New York.

It is­sued a state­ment fol­low­ing a week of con­tro­versy dur­ing which a num­ber of peo­ple spoke out against the use of the word, a deroga­tory term for gay peo­ple.

Ir­ish broad­caster Eoghan Mcder­mott raised con­cerns about the im­pact of the word be­ing played as part of the song which was orig­i­nally re­leased in 1987.

The hit, which fea­tures Kirsty Maccoll, has be­come one of the most played songs of the fes­tive pe­riod across the UK and Ire­land.

In a Twit­ter post Mcder­mott said he had asked two gay mem­bers of his team how they felt about the use of the word, adding that one favoured cen­sor­ing the word while the other pre­ferred the song not be­ing played.

“Nei­ther like it. Sim­ples,” he added.

How­ever he has de­nied sug­ges­tions that ei­ther he or any of his team had asked for the word to be cen­sored.

An­other pre­sen­ter, Stephen Byrne, also voiced his dis­com­fort at the use of the word.

Post­ing on Twit­ter, he de­scribed it as a word “that can slice open a wound that bleeds me­mories of real life and on­line bul­ly­ing”.

In a state­ment Mac­gowan, who mar­ried his long-term partner Vic­to­ria Mary Clarke last week, de­fended the use of the word in the song, say­ing it suited the char­ac­ter.

“The word was used by the char­ac­ter be­cause it fit­ted with the way she would speak and with her char­ac­ter,” he wrote.

“She is not sup­posed to be a nice per­son, or even a whole­some per­son.

“She is a woman of a cer­tain gen­er­a­tion at a cer­tain time in his­tory and she is down on her luck and des­per­ate.”

Mac­gowan added: “If peo­ple don’t un­der­stand that I was try­ing to ac­cu­rately por­tray the char­ac­ter as au­then­ti­cally as pos­si­ble then I am ab­so­lutely fine with them bleep­ing the word but I don’t want to get into an ar­gu­ment.”

A spokes­woman for RTE said: “Fairytale Of New York will be con­tin­ued to be played with­out any omis­sions on RTE ra­dio.”

The song has reached the UK Top 20 on 14 sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions since its orig­i­nal re­lease in 1987, in­clud­ing ev­ery year since 2005, and was cer­ti­fied dou­ble plat­inum in the UK in 2016.

„ Some ATMS can be out of ac­tion for many weeks.

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