“I believe there is an upper room feeling about the church in many parts of the world today. People cowering behind closed doors, afraid to express opinions, in case it will bring the wrath of the oppressors down on them, but if you focus on witnessing, you have a certain calm about outcomes. Most of the time.
“When I found myself, earlier this year, accused with other people of being a homophobe, for weeks on end, everywhere from our national parliament to our State broadcaster and it continued to the extent that my 15-year-old daughter turned to me and said, ‘Mammy are you safe? Is it safe for you to go out?’ – I had to hold on very tightly to witnessing, not winning.
And in a major irony, the article which sparked off the whole incident was about gay men in the priesthood. And I asked a rhetorical question which was that if every single priest were gay, if they were faithful to their vocation, and actively seeking to do the will of god, what would it matter?
It was a rhetorical question. And this article was what caused a very well-known drag queen to accuse me of homophobia.”
Iona Institute’s Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien speaking at a Catholic conference in Madrid, Spain in September, 2014.
“…31 mins. and 42 seconds in, Breda begins to talk about the Pantigate Affair…A very dishonest account of the whole affair….”
In today’s Sunday Independent, author and journalist John Waters writes about his experience of Pantigate west of the Shannon and wonders if teh gays would be treated differently in relation to the Croke Park gigs.
Nobody I met had ever tweeted anything, or cared one whit what some drag queen had said about me, or what had happened afterwards.
Most had registered nothing of it, and those who had were even more perplexed – one woman even thinking that someone had accused me of being a homosexual.
On the issue of Garth Brooks in Croke Park, he poses the question:
Ask yourself this: if the performer in question was Elton John, would the same objections be raised?
A video compiled by Newswhip the people-powered news people on how Pantigate – a story intiailly ignored by mainstream media – evolved with YOUR help.
Paul from Newswhip sez:
“We wanted to show how social media and more unofficial online news outlets can drive news agendas…”
…holding a minority view does not automatically confer martyr status on an individual. It just means their opinions are unpopular.This phenomenon was evident during the Pantigate controversy when some commentators, railing against the online backlash, seemed to suggest that central to the concept of free speech was the right to express an opinion without that opinion being challenged or derided.No such right exists.
…If there is a threat to freedom of speech in this country, it is not coming from social media, but from people who prefer to make accusations of bullying instead of defending their opinions from legitimate criticism.
“What is the great crime in taking money off the state broadcaster?” “Let me tell you this, if this had gone on, it isn’t €40,000, I would have got €4m out of RTE.”
…Asked if he had become depressed as a result of the national backlash, he said, “I don’t believe in depression. There’s no such thing. It’s an invention. It’s bullshit,” he said, “it’s a cop out.”
He also described how the backlash had taken a personal toll on his physical health: “I lost nearly a stone in the first few weeks of this. I didn’t sleep.”
Mr Waters said he gave serious consideration to quitting journalism and is still considering leaving Ireland to work elsewhere. “I have no friends in the media anymore.”
“You have a certain hope that somebody, somewhere knows you for who you are, you kind of have some kind of naive hope that one of these people are going to stand up and say ‘hang on, this is wrong, this is not this guy’ and that moment never came.”
“I neither agree with nor respect a lot of views that he expresses however I think a person is entitled to express their views in as rational a manner as possible.’
…John is not a person who doesn’t believe in depression. He is not a person who doesn’t believe that there are suffers of depression. What he meant was he doesn’t believe for himself.’
…As of this morning, I do believe there is a bit of a witch hunt going on now in terms of what the man has said about depression.”
‘I am getting concerned now for John, because actually I do believe he’s probably a little bit depressed.’
Sinead O’Connor speaking with Anton Savage on Today FM’s Savage Sunday earlier..
[Rory O’Neill/Miss Panti on Channel 4 News last week]
And they’re magnificent.
But that’s not important right now.
What’s it been like out and about?
…What is also enjoyable about the last week though is the fact that regular Dubliners are making their support for him known on the street. Between being stopped for conversations with “Dublin blokes” who have gay children or by those who just want to lend their support and pose for a photo, O’Neill firmly believes that ordinary people are on his side; “in the first few weeks, unless you had seen the broadcast people probably thought ‘there’s no smoke without fire, he must have said something awful’. But now they’re being super nice and that’s lovely”.
“They’re trying to paint a picture that it’s some Dublin 4 media concern, which is total bullshit because I know from walking on the streets and into Tescos that ordinary people do care, ordinary people have a sense of justice about it and ordinary people know gay people in their families. Ordinary decent Irish people are not ideologues and they saw my side of the story as a real human story that affects real human people.”
Rory O’Neill in conversation with Matthew Mulligan of Trinity News.
[Above: The Children’s Referendum debate, TV3, October 31, 2012 with from left: Kathy Sinnott, John Waters, Frances Fitzgerald and Fergus Finlay. Top: debate host Vincent Browne]
Fergus Finlay, Barnardos CEO, writing in in today’s Examiner:
A few minutes before the [TV3] debate ended, John Waters suddenly turned on me, and launched into a tirade about my motives, and those of the organisation I work for, in being involved in the campaign at all. Browne eventually interrupted him, and told him that he had directly impugned the integrity of a decent and respectable organisation, and that I had to have a right of reply.
Taken aback by the ferocity of Waters’ verbal assault, I stumbled through a couple of sentences, and the programme came to an end. When the cameras had stopped, Browne remonstrated with Waters. “You simply can’t say that sort of thing, John,” he said. Waters grinned, and replied that it was just the give and take of a robust debate!
I went over to him, and told him he was a disgrace (I may not have been quite as polite as that). A few minutes later, I noticed Browne in huddled conversation with his producer. They told me that they were considering editing the last few minutes of the programme, because there had been a pretty clear defamation. I said I believed it was important the debate be broadcast in its entirety, and gave them both an assurance that Barnardos would take no action on foot of the broadcast.
In the end — actually, immediately — they decided to cut the programme short by what they said was two and half minutes, because Waters had been so (allegedly) defamatory that anyone who worked for Barnardos could consider taking an action….
Fintan O’Toole writes in today’s Irish Times about why he feels libel actions taken by columnists should be an “absolute last resort”.
He tells how the Sunday Times, in 2010, reported that he drove home from an Irish Congress of Trade Unions rally in his series 5 BMW, therefore depicting him as something of a hypocrite.
Only he doesn’t have a series 5 BMV, or any other kind of car, because he cannot drive.
I am a national newspaper columnist. I occupy a position of enormous privilege. I’m allowed to take part in what we might call the semi-official national discourse. I’m allowed to be robustly critical of all sorts of people. I’m allowed to enrage some of those people and (though I don’t set out to do so) to upset others. I’m given those freedoms because there is a working assumption that free and open and robust debate is not just permissible in, but essential to, a democracy.
So instead of hiring a lawyer and suing the Sunday Times, I talked to the paper’s Irish editor. He agreed pretty quickly that the article was inaccurate and indefensible. It was taken off the paper’s website and a retraction was published the following week. And that was the end of it.
..there’s a price to be paid for the considerable privilege of being granted an especially loud voice in the national conversation. With the megaphone comes a duty to protect freedom of expression and a vested interest in keeping it as open as possible.
Writer and Irish Independent columnist Martina Devlin, top, and Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, above, joined Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ this morning to talk about Pantigate.
During their discussion, Mr O’Rourke played sections of Rory O’Neill’s Nobel Call performance, as Miss Panti, at the Abbey Theatre last weekend.
At the end of the discussion, Mr O’Rourke asked Mr Mullen for this thoughts on Wednesday’s report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which demanded that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers, and called on the Vatican to investigate Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries.
Mr Mullen claimed UN committees, such as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, are ‘dodgy’.
Sean O’Rourke: “Has Rory O’Neill opened up a debate that has really taken off in a way that nobody really could have predicted?”
Martina Devlin: “I certainly don’t think it could have been predicted, there wasn’t huge public interest in the subject of gay rights in Ireland in recent times. It’s on the agenda now and I think that’s good that we’re debating it. There are different viewpoints obviously being aired and my own is that there is never any justification for withholding any equal right from one sector of society. I think gays are full members of society and they’re not being afforded the same rights as everyone else. I think the State is letting them down and I think that citizens of all hues have an obligation to stand up for their fellow gays.”
O’Rourke: “I suppose a lot turns on what one means by the word ‘homophobia’ and when it’s acceptable, if at all, to use that phrase in debate.”
Devlin: “I don’t think it is acceptable to use the phrase in debate. I think homophobia’s definition is quite clear, it’s hatred of gays and I don’t have a porthole into anyone’s soul to know how they feel about someone else. I don’t think that it’s a fair term to use, I don’t have a problem with it being taken out of commission, I think there are other words you could use like prejudiced or discriminatory or intolerant or fearful of change and that’s fundamentally what this comes down to, people are fearful of change, we always are nervous of any change to the status quo but we’re now looking at Irish life and whether the definition of marriage should be altered. You know? It was set up as a way of passing on property rights and a framework for rearing children, couples not get married and have no intention of having children and so that element of it has been sidelined to a certain extent. In terms of property rights, it’s very useful and convenient and why shouldn’t we extend that to gays?”
O’Rourke: “It’s one thing again, Ronan Mullen, I suppose there are two dimensions to this that have been very much in the headlines. One is the question of homophobia and how it’s used in debate and we’ll come on then to RTÉ’s handling of the apology and the original exchange. But what’s your own sense as to how the exchanges have been over the last 10 days or fortnight now at this stage?”
Ronan Mullen: “Well, first of all, I think it was an open and shut case of defamation and nobody should be second guessing the settlement that RTÉ made or that RTÉ should have made the settlement sooner. I heard, I don’t know if it is true…”
O’Rourke: “I was hoping we could leave that for the moment..”
Mullen: “But I think it characterises everything because the debate became one about whether it should be OK to use that smear which I certainly think is libellous. And by the way, it’s a sign of how far we’ve come that nobody is in any doubt that it is libellous to say that, provided it’s false of course, to say that somebody either fears or hates homosexual persons and so it should be. And, by the way, we’ve had a debate on homophobia in the Seanad and I welcome that. But we’ll also have to have a debate about new forms of prejudice. I have to say I think that homophobia is all but gone from the country. I think only yobs are homophobic now. I’m going up and down the country at the moment, as you know Sean, and, the European election campaign, from Donegal to Cavan, from Laois to Galway and to Sligo, etc., people aren’t talking about this issue. This is largely a media-dominated controversy and it’s not because people are homophobic…”