'I was concerned for Greta, not criticising her', insists Tubridy
Ryan Tubridy has said that he is concerned for climate activist Greta Thunberg's "health and well-being" as he addressed controversial remarks he made about her.
The broadcaster faced a backlash on social media after suggesting the 16-year-old was too young to be subjected to the global stage and should be "brought home and watch a movie".
Tubridy stressed on his RTE Radio One show yesterday that he isn't defending or saying sorry for his remarks, but he did want to clarify what he meant.
He told listeners: "What I had said in regards to Greta - and this isn't a defence or an apology, it's just a clarification - it came from the heart, just genuine concern for a young person on that stage.
"I'm 46 and, apparently, I was 'shredded' yesterday online and that's fine because I'm not online so I didn't see it, but it's not nice. I got a couple of texts about it.
"I thought, 'I can take it, I'm a public figure in the public eye' but my concern yesterday was for a young person and for her health and well-being, that's all.
"I am a massive supporter of the climate marches, I have repeatedly said how much I admire the young people and their movements and their engagement in politics and public affairs."
He continued to say that he admires young people calling on political leaders to tackle climate change.
Tubridy said: "Never underestimate my love and appreciation for the next generation, please don't." Ms Thunberg made global headlines as she addressed world leaders at the United Nations in New York. She said furiously: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
Tubridy suggested on his radio show on Tuesday that she was too young to be on such a global platform.
''It's one thing campaigning, it's another thing causing anxiety to a generation," he said.
"It's not good for her mental health or her well-being. Her face contorted in pain, in agony and in anxiety. I was watching her and not thinking about the climate.
"I was thinking about my daughter and what would I do if I saw my 16-year-old's face contorted, talking about her childhood and life being robbed of her in that audience.
"It just got to a tipping point last night where I just feel she needs to be brought home and watch a movie. Just go for a walk with your da or your ma."
Tubridy divided his audience, with some social media users supporting his comments, while others called for him to apologise.
Responding to the controversy, a leading Irish climate activist praised Thunberg, but said it is up to parents and families to do their best for their children and their future.
Oisin Coughlan, director of the Friends of the Earth Ireland, said: "I think what Greta has done is extraordinary, she's done a huge public service to humanity.
"It's a remarkable story but for those of us who care about saving humanity from the worst consequences of climate change, it's a huge source of hope, too.
"She's sparked this moment and for the first time it's hopeful she can get governments to take climate change seriously and stop the climate breakdown.
"I don't think Ryan was criticising Greta. He was wondering how he would feel as a parent if his child was experiencing what Greta is experiencing.
"But it's up to every parent to make choices for their own children and what's best for them.
"Listen to Greta and her family and they will say her mental well-being is much better with activism," he added.