Tag Archives: John Lyons


A day in the General Election 2016 life of Dublin North Labour TD John Lyons.

Photographer Leon Farrell joined Mr Lyons at his home on the Poppintree estate, Ballymun, Dublin 11 for breakfast and a day of Pancake Tuesday canvassing

A day that included a visit to his alma mater, Trinity Comprehensive and to Dublin City University with Labour leader Joan Burton and tay with his mother Josie (pic 12) and her dog Busker.

Leon Farrell/Rollingnews


Deputy John Lyons called out the Vintners Federation of Ireland AND the Licensed Vintners Association on the price of a pint in Dublin city centre in an Oireachtas Committee meeting earlier.

Dónal O’Keeffe of the LVA claims there are pints in Dublin available for a splutterful €3.50.

Deputy Lyons ain’t buying it (were it indeed available, anyone?).

Lyons for Taoiseach.


lyons and mullen

Labour TD John Lyons (left), who is gay, Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, who is not, took part in an ‘opening debate’ [chaired by Ciara McDonagh  on Newstalk today] ahead of next Spring’s same sex marriage referendum.

We join the debate after Mr Lyons’ pro same-sex submission.

Ciara McCDonagh: “Senator Ronan Mullen has joined us. Ronan, is it fair to say you are against marriage equality and why?”

Ronan Mullen: “That’s where we have to start, getting the language right so that we have a respectful debate. There are hundreds of thousands of people Ciara in this country who see that marriage equality is itself a loaded term, who see that this is a debate about whether we should keep the current definition of marriage or whether we should change it. Equality is a great thing, but, you know the mere use of the word equality can take us into situations that don’t work at all, so for example you take for example you know under age persons who are completely equal in dignity and right to protection of law and in every respect for example a crime against a child is actually worse than a crime against an adult in most people’s eyes but for example there isn’t absolute equality in terms of voting rights in that situation because an issue of maturity arises in that situation.”

McDonagh:  “But that’s slightly different, you’re talking about equality of adults…”

Mullen: “Of course it’s slightly different and this is where we have to get our issues clear and this is where journalists like yourself will, will really have to engage with the hard questions for both sides on a day to day basis. I have to say coming off a European election campaign this isn’t the burning issue for Irish society. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t deal with it, but I suppose on a day to day basis this isn’t the issue I’m dealing with with people whose kids have been forced to emigrate, who cant earn a decent living…”

McDonagh: “Well, that’s fair enough but the Taoiseach has announced it is going to happen in spring so we’re going to have to debate it now, the onus is on the politicians and the media to air all these arguments, so what we want to know is why you’re not in favour of marriage equality.”

Mullen: “No I want you to stop using marriage equality because that’s a biased term.”

 McDonagh: “Well why would you be opposed to this referendum?”

Mullen: “Would you ask me why do I support the current definition of marriage, are you happy with that formulation?”

McDonagh: “If the referendum gives people in same sex relationships the right to get married why are you against that, can you sum it up?”

Mullen: “Simply because I favour the current definition of marriage, it’s not the biggest issue for me, it’s easy for me to say yes to what everybody wants. I just have to say in all honesty and having looked at the issues as they come up from time to time that I believe that current definition of marriage has a particular social role, the role that is around the protection of children and that is why I am from the start inviting the media to ensure the highest debate. You have to realise that there are hundreds of thousands if not more decent people in our country…”

McDonagh: “There are millions of decent people.”

Mullen: “If you don’t turn it into a debating argument with me we will get more answers. The point I was trying to make, I haven’t finished the sentence, is that there are at least hundreds of thousands of decent people who have loved ones who may be in same sex relationships, for example, but who don’t feel they have to change their stance on whether marriage should be allowed or not.”

 McDonagh: “But we have to give them the option of deciding it.”

Mullen: “The people? Yes, those people, and I think many of those people will take the view that the definition of marriage works for a particular social reason, that the meaning of marriage itself has to do with the relationship between men and women because that is a socially preferred context for the upbringing of children. With great respect for other situations, that something we want to protect.”

McCDonagh: “So you’re talking about people in same-sex relationships, gay and lesbian people being parents, that sort of thing? And possibly you’re raising concerns about that children in that situation? What evidence do you have that there’s any negative effect on those children?”

Mullen: “No you’re putting words in my mouth, you probably are putting words in my mouth because if you look what the current Constitution currently says there is a reason why marriage has been defined in a particular way and the definition of marriage, it seems to me what our Constitution says is that the State pledges to guard with special care the definition of marriage on which the family is founded there is this idea that the family is somehow founded on marriage.”

McDonagh: “Ok, but Ronan, because we don’t have a lot of time here, do you have any evidence that same-sex marriage will have an impact on the family?”

Mullen: “The first impact that same sex marriage would have, or redefining marriage..”

McDonagh: “But on the family?”

Mullen: “Just let me finish. Let me finish the point please.”

McDonagh: “Just asking the question.”

Mullen: “What I have noticed already is that you haven’t been cross-examining John in the same way, and I’m trying to take the media on a journey here, it’s a journey…”

McDonagh: “John and I had a few minutes before you got here.”

Mullen: “And did you grill him?”

McDonagh: “Yes. Did you hear it?”

Mullen: “No, but..”

McDonagh: “We’re very short on time Ronan.”

Mullen: “No I’m going to answer your first question. The definition of marriage works because the international supported evidence is that the, the preferred context, with great respect for other situations is the two biological parents. That’s what the data says. I think we lose this if we go changing the definition of marriage that may, frankly, deprive a child of their rights starting off. We can’t go talking about children’s rights after they’re born if we don’t care about the circumstances in which they’re brought into the world.”

McDonagh: “Right. Ronan, one more question. John is sitting across the table from you. He currently doesn’t have the opportunity to marry the person he loves. Can you tell me why, and why that should be the case.”

Mullen: “Well…”

Lyons: “You can try and look at me, Ronan, when you answer it. I’m a human being, I’m a human being here.”

Mullen: “Don’t demonise me, John. I smile at you and address you every day of the week in Leinster house, and what I’m not going to let happen during this debate, no matter whom I debate it with, good people like you John and Ciara and anybody else, ‘m going to insist on professionalism on all sides and I’m also going to insist that nobody’s demonised. The suggestion that I can’t look you in the eye and smile at me is a lie, John, because I’ve always treated you with the utmost courtesy.You’ve come to my door canvassing a vote and Ive always treated you with the utmost courtesy. So please don’t try to send out a message or paint…”

Lyons: “I most certainly wouldn’t Ronan. I think you know me better than that.”

Mullen: “No I don’t you see, and I’m trying to set down the ground rules for this debate to make sure it has to be respectful. I’m a tough nut, you see, and I’m not doing this for myself, I’m doing this to make sure decent people aren’t frightened out of this debate because they’re being made to look like bad people….”

McDonagh: “That’s something I raised with John before you came in and I’m going to ask you it as well. The tone of this debate, we have about nine months, what are we going to do to make sure that it doesn’t descend into accusations of homophobia?”

Mullen: “Well that’s out of the question now because we know that that’s libellous, presumably we’ve learned from what happened in RTE…”

Lyons: “I think we’ll have quite a decent and respectful debate on this and it will be honest and frank and robust I presume, and people should be challenged on their views.”

Mullen: “Exactly, it’s all about playing the ball not the man or woman isn’t it. Honour one another’s right to have a particular philosophical, moral, social, view. I see the view I have as coming from the protection of children, about the presumption that children should be ideally brought into the world in a father mother biological situation. Other people will disagree with that but’s a fair argument.”

Lyons: “The debate in fairness from Ronan’s perspective has been moving away from what the Taoiseach has said already. The referendum itself will be on one point and on one point only and it will be exceptionally clear and none of the other things you’ve brought into it Ronan are going to be part of the debate. Will Irish society, will Irish society, will Irish people afford the right to civil marriage to people of same sex?”

Mullen: “Your emphasis on civil is good because this isn’t a religious matter.”

McDonagh: “Ronan, excuse me , we don’t know wording of this referendum at the moment. For now we have absolutely run out of time John Lyons, Labour TD for Dublin North West, Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, thank you both very much…”

Listen here

Thanks Paddy McDonnell

(Photocall ireland)



[Fine Gael TDs Jerry Buttimer and Labour’s John Lyons, above]

During Topical Issues in the Dáil yesterday, several TDs, from different parties, expressed their concerns to Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte in relation to the €85,000 RTÉ paid to John Waters and members of the Iona Institute.
Minister Rabbitte responded saying he had “no role in managing editorial matters, making decisions around programming or dealing with litigation claims. I therefore have no intention of interfering in RTÉ’s management of this specific file.”

From the debate:

[Labour TD John Lyons]

“I want to ask some questions in relation to the issue for RTÉ to pay out a reported €85,000, in the time that I’ve left, I want to ask: was there one person in charge of this issue? One point of contact, from the moment that they decided to deal with this issue, until they paid out this compensation? And, on what decision did they decide to pay out this compensation? It’s quite clear Ceann Comhairle from the information I’ve received from various sources that, and including from the managing director in his own press release, where he says that the legal position was far from clear. Well the question I have for RTÉ, here today is, if the position was far from clear and they had various pieces of legal advice given to them over a number of weeks, stating basically that they shouldn’t pay to that they should pay, on what basis did they decide to pay this money out. Finally, Ceann Comhairle, cause I know I’m over time, what I want to say is, I know that the legal advice that RTÉ used, sought to pay out this money, is a privileged position and we are not entitled to it, but I believe there has to be a political will, in the interest of the national public, to find out on what basis they paid this out. Because I certainly believe that RTÉ were wrong to pay out this money on what was, essentially, an anti-gay prejudice issue that people were challenged on. Thank you, Ceann Comhairle.”


“I really just want to say at this stage, because I actually have this one minute left, you know,  there’s two people in here I think at the moment who knows what homophobia feels like, who knows what it’s like to be called a queer, to be called a fag, to be called a gay. Only recently, I think, just before Christmas, I walked from my own house, around the the Centra where a bunch of teenagers called me gay or some other name they call us, you know, I thought, you know I was living in a society where this stuff isn’t acceptable any more. But yet, when people challenge people on these issues and that’s what Rory O’Neill did on the Saturday Night Show: he called it what it is. When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck. And I think RTÉ were completely wrong and bang out of order when they got numerous types of legal advice, saying in fact perhaps that they should not even pursue and give any sort of compensation out. RTÉ got it wrong and everybody in the public knows they got it wrong and RTÉ need to come out and let us know that they got it wrong. Otherwise there will not be confidence in our national broadcaster to mediate any debate with confidence, particularly around issues that affect my life and the people who love me and love all the other people who aren’t treated properly in this society”

[Fine Gael Jerry Buttimer]

“I do believe, minister, RTÉ were erroneous and were wrong in what they did. I think they folded too quickly and I would like to ask you, who advised, what was the nature of the advice? What was their intent in the advice in terms of their…why did they fold up tents so quickly and were they involved in any other organisations other than advising RTÉ? Our public service broadcaster has an obligation to provide balanced, responsible, fair transmission of social matters and social issues and it must also, as a public service broadcaster, facilitate fair and balanced debate on matters of absolute public importance. And central to this obligation, ceann comhairle, I believe must be an entitlement of those participating on programmes on RTÉ, to voice honestly-held opinions and make fair comment. RTÉ must act as a fair arbitrator and stand by the right of people on its platform, to voice honestly-held opinions, otherwise it acts to undermine its public service remit. And Ceann Comhairle, I contrast, the role of RTÉ in its duty in this case, with what happened in the Abbey Theatre a couple of weeks ago, where the whole issue of homophobia and the whole issue of LGBT rights was fully explored on the stage of the Abbey. Yet you contrast that with RTÉ, where it parked, at the first opportunity, a debate on this. What would happen if we were discussing racism? Would somebody who was accused of racism have to come on and defend themselves?”


“Minister, RTÉ got it wrong, they got it completely wrong and they folder their tent in and in this house, this week Ceann Comhairle, in this Oireachtas, we were  told, as gay people, that it’s a matter of social reengineering by the Gay Ideological Movement, and I’m quoting from a member in the Seanad. And Ceann Comhairle, let me put it on the record in this house, as I’ve done before. I speak here, not just as a gay person but as a member of society who wants to be treated equally. I’ve been beaten, spat, chased, harassed and mocked like Deputy Lyons because of who I am. I was born with a gift given to me and I’ve spent most of my life struggling and finding a place in my own country, which I love, to be accepted and to see the support from my fellow colleagues here in this house, and from you Ceann Comhairle is a demonstration of how our society is gone and come forward. But I will not, Ceann Comhairle, in a tolerant, respectful debate allow people who spout hatred, intolerance to be left go unchecked.”

[Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy]

“I could go into debate on what these people have said and written and how it could be identified as homophobic, however I’m willing to rely on Rory O’Neill and his alter ego, Panti, as the leading figure in Ireland’s LGBT movement, to know what homophobia is. I’m a straight, middle-aged man and I won’t pretend that I know how members of the LGBT movement are made to feel everyday when they face articles in newspapers, comments on the radio, abuse on the street and even accusations within the chambers of this institution but what I will discuss is RTÉ’s censorship of Rory O’Neill and the debate surrounding homophobia. The Government has promised a referendum on marriage equality in 2015, following a recommendation by a majority of the constitution convention, to amend the constitution, to allow same-sex marriage. Now, those who publicaly advocate an inequality cannot hide behind defamation legislation when they are called out on their views to seek to gain public support for. The demand of significant sums of public money by such individuals, or group, in place of a right to reply, sets a deeply worrying precedent. Now this country has a poor history of censorship. For many years, some of our great authors suffered at the hands of this censorship board. Section 31 kept republicans such as myself off the airwaves for many years. RTÉ has this tradition of facilitating censorship and as the public service broadcaster, it’s deeply worrying to see this rear it’s head again. It should not be the case that those who call homophobia out for what it is that should suffer the censorship.”

[United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly]

“I don’t know why RTÉ handed over money in this regard because nothing inaccurate was said and that is a critical point. The people and the organisation who benefited from this payout have clearly argued that LGBT people should be treated differently and that is nothing else, other than homophobia. And to call it anything else is in my opinion an abuse of language. Now Brendan O’Connor’s apology remarkably said that it is an important part of democratic debate, that people should be entitled to hold dissenting views on controversial subjects, and that is absolutely the case. But that means that you also have to have the right to express a different opinion on that dissenting view, and call it by it’s proper name and, as Deputy Buttimer said, if someone is known to be a racist, has expressed racist views and we call them a racist are we to then turn around and apologise for calling them by their right name. Now this issue has enormous consequences for Irish society and we, as a parliament, have to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate homophobia and unless this issue is addressed, the only conclusion that people will draw is that, if you have big pockets then you can use them to stifle debate and control opinion and Irish people don’t want to live in a society like that.”

[Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan]

“Hopefully, something good will come out of this. One good thing that has come out of it is that we get people like Michael Colreavy, or myself, from Leitrim, or from Roscommon, who can proudly stand up here and say we want to defend gay rights. Forty years ago, you’d have been worried going home if you did what Michael did here today. And that is massive progress, it really, really is. And the idea…it would be nice if there was no homophobia but pretending there isn’t doesn’t make it all go away. And that speech that was made in the Abbey Theatre explained it so beautifully and the fact that we’re all homophobic, we are. But it’s a case of working on it and trying to learn about the whole situation and fighting against it and, in the end, everyone gets their rights. But, sadly, some people are more homophobic than others and some people don’t seem to make any effort to deal with that homophobia and I think it’s sad that you’re now being denied the right to even use the word.”

[Independent TD Catherine Murphy]

“Ceann comhairle, for the last couple of weeks, some of us have thought we’ve been living in a parallel universe. A huge debate has been taking place online through sites like The Journal, Broadsheet, the Twitter and Facebook, the mainstream media, print media, largely, absent from that debate. The head of television, in RTÉ yesterday, explained to staff why they apologised and paid €85,000, that screams to me of discontent within RTÉ, it’s obvious that many of the station’s personnel know that there are times that defending the principles behind public service broadcasting ranks higher than the fear of litigation. John Waters, Breda O’Brien and the Iona Institute can all be described as opinion formers. They’ve made themselves part of the public discourse, I stress public discourse on such issues as same-sex marriage and frequently present gay people’s relationships as less then, as a starting point. For that to go, without challenge is about setting the parameters of the debate to their advantage and that’s at a time when we’re going to have a referendum next year and I think that that is, timewise, of critical importance. So why the rush by RTÉ to apologise and pay? Was it because they were aware of that those complaining had deep pockets and the ability to mount a credible legal challenge? If so, you must ask the question: how did those pockets get so filled? The second issue is: one of the people making complaints, one of the complaints that came was from John Waters who was then a board member of RTÉ’s regulating body, the BAI. Is it not a massive conflict of interest and was RTÉ under additional duress. Why did the BAI suddenly change their code of conduct on the 22nd of January, the day, the same day RTÉ agreed the payout? Is that the reason John Waters resigned from the BAI, on the 24th? Or did you, minister, ask him to resign? Given the massive payout and the obvious conflict of interest, minister, do you believe, as I do, that he should return that money to RTÉ?

[Independent TD Mick Wallace]

“I too watched Panti Bliss’s speech at the Abbey Theatre and it is powerful, it is very powerful. One would think that RTÉ had an obligation to facilitate free and open debate. In this instance it failed miserably, some people now more offended by the word ‘homophobia’ than they are by homophobia itself. This is censorship. In a press release last week, minister, you said that homophobia is too loaded a term to be used to categorise those who hold contrary views on what is a matter of legitimate public debate. I would like to point out that it is not for heterosexuals to define what homophobia is. We do not have the right to tell gay people what does or doesn’t constitute homophobia. This was eloquently summed up by Panti Bliss in her Abbey Theatre speech last weekend when she said ‘so now Irish gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicaly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by our betters. The word homophobia is no longer available to gay people, which is a spectacular, neat Orwellian trick because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia, homophobes are’. Does the minister think that these contrary views, as he calls them, have no impact? Does he believe there is no link between discriminatory comments about gay people and physical attacks on gay people? Where does the minister think those that commit physical acts of violence against gay people get their ideas from. To quote Breda O’Brien ‘equality must take second place to the common good’. Does the minister honestly think these words have no impact on gay people?


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Labour TD John Lyons submits his question to Minister for Communications Pat ‘Phat’ Rabbitte for reply next Tuesday.

Earlier: Panti Power

Previously: Panticipation