Ryan Tubridy has sparked anger online after telling listeners on his radio programme that Greta Thunberg should be “brought home” from the United Nations Climate Action Summit to “watch a movie”
The Irish radio host made the remarks on his RTE radio show in the wake of Thunberg’s impassioned speech in New York.
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," she said.
"People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.
"We are in the beginning of a mass-extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.
"How dare you!" she added.
While Thunberg’s remarks were welcomed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who praised her as someone “trying to make the world a better place”, Tubridy had an altogether different take.
He told listeners: "I was watching her, not really thinking about the climate, I was thinking about my daughter. What would I do if I saw my 16-year-old, face contorted, talking about her childhood and life being robbed? What if I were her father?"
He added: "‘She has Aspergers, that's known but she’s now up for grabs.
"16-year-olds shouldn't be up for grabs. I just don't think she should be put on a stage that size. It's not good for her health, I think. Not good for her mental health or wellbeing."
"I'd rather an 18-year-old did that than a 16-year-old. I do understand that it's a youth-led movement but I just worry is she alright? Is she being minded?
Though Tubridy was eager to clarify that he was not trying to "mock" the teen, he criticised her use of the phrase “how dare you”.
"No-one likes to be addressed that way,” he said, before expressing scepticism over whether she had written her speech, noting its “mature” tone.
Later in he programme, he said:"I just thought we got to a tipping point last night, where now she needs to be either be brought home and watch a movie, you know, just go for a walk with your da or your ma, just a little return to the simple things, and come back maybe in a year."
While Tubridy read out texts from listeners agreeing with his standpoint, it was a different story on Twitter, with several users coming out in support of Thunberg.
One tweeted: "Just happened to hear Ryan Tubridy emoting his "concern" for #GretaThunberg - 'she's a child' etc. Ryan, at her age I had finished my Leaving Cert and left school. Greta has something to say. Shut up and listen to a voice other than your own, for a change."
Another added: "Sad to hear Ryan Tubridy (Ireland's Mr voice of reason) tell us he's all for child participation but Greta, who actually has influence, 'needs to go home and watch a movie and come back in a year or two. Worse, he mentioned her disability as argument for her not to be heard."
A third, meanwhile, said: "Just when you think Ryan Tubridy couldn't be any more clueless and condescending he goes and opens his mouth!"
Tubridy has yet to issue a response to the criticism.