A BRITISH DJ has apologised for reading out a racist joke about Irish people live on-air.
XFM host Jon Holmes read out the slur on his breakfast show this morning after asking whether it was even possible to racially offend Irish people.
The joke featured in the show’s “headline hijack” section, where Mr Holmes selects the best fictional news story sent in by listeners.
“At the Winter Olympics, headline hijack, chaos followed after the Irish bobsleigh team ordered the track to be gritted before they went down,” he said.
It is believed that the joke is a reference to the Traveller community.
The 40-year-old was spoken to by managers at the music station after his show. “Jon realised his mistake as soon as he’d read out the listener’s joke, and is sorry the joke caused offence,” an XFM spokesperson said.
Mr Holmes had read out the insulting quip despite the pleas of colleagues.
Announcing that a reader had sent in “a nice old-fashioned Irish joke”, the award-winning broadcaster asked his producer: “Can you still do those Simon? Can you be racist towards Irish people now? I cannot remember the rules.”
The producer then advised him: “You shouldn’t really be racist to anyone Jon.”
Mr Holmes repeated: “Can you be racist to Irish people though? Is the Irish joke a staple of thing? Or is that un-politically correct now?”
Again his colleague sought to advise him not to read it out, saying: “If in doubt, leave it out.”
“I tell you what, I will read it and we can all decide,” the DJ replied. “This is Tim, not me. So together we will judge Tim.”
Breaking five seconds of silence after he read the joke to listeners, Mr Holmes added: “Yeah it is a bit racist.”
The anti-Irish joke followed a previous fake news story in the headline hijack section about the Winter Olympics being moved to Milton Keynes.
Another said: “From today, as part of the Make London Fun initiative, all police officers must engage in a game of ‘it’ when prompted by a member of the public.”
When the show returned from an ad break, Mr Holmes sought to defend his decision to tell the racist joke live on air. “Tim has been back on by the way, he says it is not racist because he is Irish himself,” he said.
But his producer told him that is “never an excuse”. Mr Holmes is no stranger to controversy, having been sacked from Virgin Radio early in his career after he encouraged a nine-year-old girl to repeat a bizarre sexually explicit phrase.
The incident left Virgin saddled with a £75,000 fine and followed a number of controversial on-air stunts from Mr Holmes, including his decision to broadcast his assistant’s attempt to break into the hospital psychiatric ward where 80s singer Adam Ant was receiving treatment.