Norwegian radio blasted for Famine joke

Norwegian radio blasted for Famine joke

The Norwegian state broadcaster NRK has apologised for a joke about the Great Famine in Ireland

The NRK joke, made during a comedy sketch on a popular Christmas show, was later accepted by the broadcaster as being offensive and inappropriate “given the scale of the suffering and loss of life that occurred during the Famine”.

The offending quip came during a ‘game’ in which contestants had to find a hidden potato. The host told the contestants: “It’s just like in Ireland in 1845 — last man to the potato loses.”

The NRK apology came after Eddie Whyte, an Irishman living in Norway,

tweeted at the broadcaster to express his condemnation at the remark, saying that the NRK should regret "joking" about the Famine and pondered if a joke about the Holocaust would be next.

NRK responded to Whyte's tweet saying: "To hear that people got offended by the remarks regarding the great famine of 1845, it was not our intention.

"At the time, we did not react to it, as it pointed to a tragedy which happened so long ago, but we can understand that the matter is perceived quite differently by others.

"We appreciate this being brought to our attention, and for helping us understand the depth of this trauma and how it affects people around the world to this day."

However, Eddie Whyte dismissed NRK’s statement as ‘a half apology’

Many Irish people and others took to social media to express their disapproval. However, others believe that Whyte was being over-sensitive, with one calling him a ‘whinger’. One tweet said: “They were sensitive to your over-the-top complaint. So be it, but as someone from a family in the west of Ireland, who probably lost many ancestors in the Famine, I can say that it wouldn’t do for IRL to develop a reputation as a nation of whingers.”

According to The Irish Times Eddie Whyte is originally from Belfast but has lived in Norway for several years and is a policy adviser in local government in Sandefjord.

The Great Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, took place between 1845 and 1852 and was caused by a potato blight that wiped out the main source of food for many poor Irish families. The British government, failed to provide adequate relief. As a result, an estimated 1 million people died of starvation and related diseases, and another 2 million were forced to emigrate.