Taxi firm pulls sponsorship of Tommy Tiernan TV show following complaint over stand-up joke

Taxi firm pulls sponsorship of Tommy Tiernan TV show following complaint over stand-up joke

A TAXI firm has reportedly pulled its sponsorship of comedian Tommy Tiernan's RTÉ show following a complaint over a joke at one of his recent live shows.

Vehicle hire company Free Now said that despite the move, it would continue to work with the Irish broadcaster on other projects.

Tiernan has since apologised to fellow RTÉ presenter Emer O'Neill, who was in the audience for Tiernan's Tomfoolery stand-up show when the comedian told the joke, which he has since dropped from his routine.

He has also condemned those who have criticised Ms O'Neill for raising her concerns about the joke, reportedly admitting she was right to challenge him.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, Free Now — which operates in 150 cities across Europe — said they were 'disappointed' by Tiernan's comments.

"Prejudice of any kind towards taxi drivers is unacceptable," the firm added.

'Too close to the bone'

O’Neill, a former presenter on RTÉ's Today show, revealed on Instagram recently that she had gone to Tiernan's live show at Dublin's Vicar Street on January 6.

However, she added that 'a night that was to be fun and full of laughter turned sour with a way too close to the bone joke'.

Paraphrasing Tiernan's joke, she said it described a visit to the zoo with an enclosure that showed taxi drivers roaming an African savannah.

Earlier this week, she revealed on social media that Tiernan had both emailed and phoned her to apologise, adding that she was thankful for the 'really positive conversation' they had.

Saying Tiernan had accepted the joke was offensive, she added: "His acknowledgement of this and his genuine reflection of the incident was apparent when we spoke.

"He candidly expressed that he, as a middle-aged white man, did not have the right to decide what is and is not offensive to ethnic minority communities having no understanding or lived experience of what it is like for us day to day."

'Horrific' attacks

On Friday, O'Neill appeared on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Claire Byrne show, where she revealed she had been subject to 'horrific' personal attacks since her original post.

These included comments that the Bray-born presenter was 'not real Irish' and that 'there are plenty of boats and planes that they can get on and go back to Africa'.

Byrne read a statement from Tiernan's team, revealing he had apologised for the joke at each of his subsequent shows.

"On Friday, January 6, Tommy told a joke on stage as part of his stand-up routine," read the statement.

"As soon as he received a complaint, he spoke to that audience member to understand where he went wrong.

"He immediately removed the joke from the set and apologised both personally by phone and email and publicly by addressing it on stage the following night and every night since, reiterating his apology.

"Tommy does not condone any negative online comments received by this audience member and most definitely not in his defence."

A spokesperson for RTÉ confirmed that Free Now had ended its sponsorship of RTÉ One's Tommy Tiernan Show.

"We look forward to working with Free Now again in the future,” added the statement.