I will be working on other TV projects so you may see as well as hear me again soon. 🙏
— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) August 10, 2021
I will be working on other TV projects so you may see as well as hear me again soon. 🙏
— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) August 10, 2021
— @Aoifs123 (@Aoifs123) January 30, 2020
What the country cant afford is to pay €70k a year on pensions for 50 year old former politicians.
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) January 30, 2020
From top: Panel on Virgin Media One’s post-debate show, Political Correspondent Gavan Reilly, debate moderators Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper
Virgin Media One hosted a seven-way leaders’ debate which was moderated by Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper.
Mr Yates opened the debate with the following line:
“I’m wondering has there ever been such a collection of chancers and charlatans put before the Irish public. Because I put it to you, starting with the Taoiseach, that is a fundamentally dishonest election because the presumption is there’s €11billion to have a giveaway on tax cuts and spending when, in actual fact, the Department of Finance have not assured us that money will be available.”
Following the debate, Virgin Media One’s Political Correspondent Gavan Reilly hosted a post-debate show with a panel including journalist and commentator Alison O’Connor, Associate Professor of Politics at DCU Gary Murphy, Irish Independent‘s Fionnan Sheahan and businesswoman Norah Casey.
The manner in which the debate was moderated came in for a lot of criticism on social media and from the panel.
Ms O’Connor said she’d like to have one of the moderators “drug tested” to see how much “Red Bull” they had drank before adding that she felt there was too much testosterone in the room.
Mr Sheahan reluctantly admitted he’d like to see Vincent Browne back, in a nod to the former host of The Tonight Show on then TV3.
During the debate, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Mr Yates to “calm it” at one point [see above].
Eventually, Mr Yates and Mr Cooper joined the post-debate panel.
Then Mr Reilly put the criticism up to them and they had this exchange…
Gavan Reilly: “Welcome back. Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates have joined us straight from this evening’s debate which, technically speaking they moderated but gents I have to put it to you, Ivan, you specifically, the way you set the tone in the first 15 seconds. It hardly really set the pace for what should have been a very mature exchange of views about the future of the country and how Ireland ought to be run…”
Ivan Yates: “Well, part of what I do, both on this show and on radio, is not to do the ‘journalistic-ask-the-questions’. I’m not a journalist at all. I have an opinion and I’ve a very strong opinion on this election that the Department of Finance is muzzled for saying what they really think.
“And I think they are having a conniption about the promises that all parties are making. They actually don’t believe there’ll be 2.5% growth each year for the next five years, that we’ll be record breakers.
“And all those things.
“And I’ve seen the correspondence that they’ve sent the parties and they’ve totally, dishonestly misrepresented what the costings are. Because, like, if you say ‘what’s the reduction of pupil-to-teacher ratio? it’ll cost €50million’. They’ll give you a figure but they have an opinion of the knock-on effects of tax change…”
Reilly: “No sure, and all of that is fine…”
Yates: “The public have never got that…”
Reilly: “But that’s fine, but that’s your opinion, and you’re not running…”
Yates: “That’s right.”
Reilly: “…in the election…”
Reilly: “So why then did you take up so much time from the seven people who do have aspirations to lead different cohorts of the Government and take up so much time, not only setting the tone but not letting them finish when they tried to reply?”
Yates: “Well, a lot of that was to do with crowd control. There was nine people in the room and there was only so many minutes. But the whole entire first section was taken up with the economy and their promises. And I think that has to be put squarely to the voters, to say ‘are they really trying to buy my vote here?’.”
Alison O’Connor: “Yeah, but I think the viewer, I think that the problem was, appreciating what you’re saying, the problem was that in that section the viewer wasn’t served. Because it was like ‘reach for the Solpadeine’. That was the problem. It was very shouty and camáile and it was difficult, appreciating that there were nine people. So it was very, it was very difficult to…”
Talk over each other
Yates: “…the seven leaders because they were very anxious…”
Reilly: “Matt, having just come back from the studio what do you think the other seven leaders made of the tone of the conduct of tonight’s debate?”
Matt Cooper: “That’s not something we discussed with them afterwards. You do your handshakes, you let them go off and do what they’re going to do…”
Reilly: “No, and I appreciate you have to come down here too but surely you talked to them during the ad breaks?”
Cooper: “No actually, we didn’t. We go and talk and talk to our producers, whatever, so there wasn’t, we had, I had one brief conversation with them at the second ad break in relation to, that there was an issue that perhaps there was a bit too much talking over each other. And I think then when we moved into the discussion about a united Ireland was particularly interesting and particularly illuminating, and I was very, very happy with the third and fourth sections.
“I see where you’re coming from in relation to the early parts. And that’s something obviously that, well we can’t change, we take very much on board.
“But one thing I would say, I think one thing that we are probably, I think we should be glad of in Ireland is that we do actually have an awful lot of really, well-intentioned politicians. Whatever you might think of the particular positions that they take in relation to things. I’d say I was impressed by all of them with the way that they stood their corner, the way they articulated their positions, some of them perhaps maybe are not as well thought out as they might think and some of them are…”
Gary Murphy: “But that’s not the way...That’s not the way you introduced the debate though. That’s not the way you introduced the debate. You introduced the debate saying that basically they were all, you know, chancers because of the Department of Finance…your views…”
Cooper: “It’s not…in fairness to Ivan, sometimes that is to provoke the response from the people to say ‘well no, we’re actually not chancers, this is what we’re doing and why we’re doing it’…”
Watch back in full here
Previously: Lose The Hattitude
Above from left: : Luke Fitzgerald, Matt Cooper, Jamie Heaslip, Fergus McFadden, Sean O’Brien. Also at top far left: Fergus McFadden.
Burke Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin.
Former international rugby stars were out in force to help Jamie Heaslip launch his new book All In, written with Matt Cooper and
perform a retina-scorching wedgie on the ex-Number 8.
For almost the duration of his professional career, during which he was a mainstay for Leinster and Ireland, the name of Jamie Heaslip was synonymous with the number 8 jersey. Written in partnership with Matt Cooper, All In is the story of Heaslip’s thirteen years at rugby’s frontline…
Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Sandymount, Dublin 4.
The launch of the Achill Half-Marathon 20i9 with, above from left: Matt Cooper, Brendan Courtney, Sean Molloy and Cory Kilbane.
The Half-Marathon and 10k run, sponsored by Volvo Ireland, takes place on Saturday, July 6.
National Concert Hall, Dublin 2
Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates officially unveiled as the new anchormen of the Tonight Show, the replacement for Tonight with Vincent Browne.
A ‘double header’ at 11pm Monday to Friday and Mario Rosenstock will “also join the pair every Thursday”.
Female host (out of picture).
Pic via Daragh Brophy and MediaHQ
Brendan Ogle outside Apollo House on January 12
You may recall RTÉ One’s report from Monday, by John Kilraine – about the former headquarters of the Unite trade union, on Merrion Square in Dublin, which has been vacant for three years.
It was reported:
“…a trust connected to the trade union Unite applied to be exempted from social housing for a development at its former headquarters…while one of its top officials was planning the occupation of Apollo House…”.
The report went on to say Brendan Ogle, of Unite and the Home Sweet Home movement, gained access to Apollo House a day after Unite’s application for a Social Housing Exemption Cert was granted by Dublin City Council.
Mr Ogle subsequently wrote a lengthy post on Facebook concerning the RTÉ report.
Further to this…
Yesterday evening, Mr Ogle spoke to Matt Cooper on Today FM about the matter, during which a statement from RTE was read out.
A transcript of the interview:
Matt Cooper: “Brendan Ogle, Home Sweet Home organiser, also the Unite trade union’s education and policy officer has joined us in studio today. Jimmy Kelly, the regional organiser, of course, was with us on yesterday’s programme to respond to the story which RTE broke yesterday about the former Unite headquarters in Merrion Square being vacant for the last three years. Leading to questions as to why it could not have been used as a venue to look after the homeless people rather than occupying Apollo House in Dublin city centre. Brendan Ogle, can you understand why people would ask that, and regard it as a legitimate question?”
Brendan Ogle: “No.”
Cooper: “Why not?”
Ogle: “I can’t understand why a workers’ organisation and volunteers and members of it, which is an non-profit organisation, a friendly society organisation, comes under attack for helping homeless people. I can’t understand it.”
Cooper: “Attack. Why do you say attack?”
Ogle: “Well, because, this is not journalism. We were approached by RTE at lunchtime, Saturday afternoon. I was approached, notwithstanding the fact I had nothing to do with property. I don’t even own one, nevermind having anything to do with it. And it was a very complex question. And Jimmy Kelly, who you’ve just mentioned – the leader of Unite in Ireland – sought, until today, until Tuesday, to provide RTE will full facts. Bearing in mind, Matt, that it was Saturday afternoon, if we’d got contacted on Monday, or even on Friday, we might have been able to do something.”
Cooper: “Sorry, had you not anticipated at any stage, over the last month or so, that somebody might come along and say to you, ‘hang on a second, you’re very involved in this campaign, you’re leading it down in Apollo House and, as it happens, you have a large building in Merrion Square which has been vacant for three years. If you’re concerned about the homeless, why didn’t you actually use that as a venue to house people?”
Ogle: “No, I didn’t anticipate it. I anticipated that elements of the media were up to no good when they were standing outside the gates of Apollo House, offering homeless people, going in and out, money to tell stories about what was going on in there. That was going on the whole time. So I appreciate…”
Cooper: “I have to say, I know nothing about that…I don’t know which organisations may have done that.”
Ogle: “Absolutely, and actually it wasn’t RTE either, it was print outlets. But I watched it, and I watched it on several occasions. So I anticipated a dirty tricks campaign because any time anybody stands up and puts there head above the parapet, be it the union or be it me or be it a long list of other people in this country – and stands up for people who need help – then agendas quickly set in…”
Cooper: “Hang on, why is it, no, no, no, hold on a second, why is it a dirty trick to ask what many people regard as a legitimate question as to why you did not use the property in Merrion Square?”
Ogle: “Well, first of all, it’s not a legitimate question because we went into Apollo House, very clearly stating – first of all, we were asked could we get into Apollo House by the artists. We’ve stated that, on the record, a number of times. So that loop was left out of the questions. Second of all, we went into Apollo House because it was a Nama property. We already own, and I’m not going to discuss it again – I will if you want, if you’ve the time – but the point about it is: it was a Nama property. As it turns out we were quite entitled to look for time to look into this. When we looked for time to look into it, we discovered that the so-called obligations do not apply at all because there’s only four units planned in Merrion Square. And [former environment minister] Alan Kelly changed the requirements to nine. So we can’t give someone .04 of a unit. And then we discovered today – and John Kilraine could have been told this, if he’d waited till… well I could have said I don’t know why the story was broken yesterday. I know exactly why the story was broken yesterday…”
Cooper: “Well, you assume you know why, you don’t actually know directly. Let’s be fair now…”
Ogle: “I’m suggesting, okay, I’m suggesting and I fully, genuinely and sincerely believe – the story was broke yesterday to damage me, to damage Unite trade union, so the facts that we discovered today would come out after the damage was done. I’m suggesting that, I sincerely, honestly and earnestly believe that to be the case. And what we have discovered is that, three years ago, Unite trade union spoke to a number of groups working with homelessness – which wasn’t as bad then as it is now, but was on the way – and invited them to look at Merrion Square and see was it appropriate for housing emergency accommodation. And one of the groups, the others can identify themselves, but one of the groups that will be happy to identify themselves was Focus Ireland, who came into Merrion Square three years ago, looked at it, looked at the state of the building and decided that, for emergency accommodation for the services they provide homeless people that that was not a suitable location – notwithstanding any planning problems. And we have worked very, very well in Home Sweet Home, we have…”
Cooper: “Hang on, why didn’t you know that or Jimmy Kelly knew that? Who, in Unite, actually spoke with Focus Ireland and why did they not tell you that?”
Ogle: “Well, first of all, Matt. Staff, as you know here, come and go and move through situations and we looked for time of RTE to give a full, detailed response to those questions. If the question had come on a working day, we could have done it quicker. It came on a Saturday afternoon, very bizarre altogether. Saturday afternoon? We looked for Tuesday, I don’t think it was unreasonable, there’s no reason why RTE couldn’t have waited until Tuesday and it took us time to do a search of our records, of our archives, or our emails, and of our systems. We’re not in that building anymore, Matt. We’ve got rid of that building. Our headquarters by the way…”
Cooper: “Have you got rid of it? You still own it, don’t you?”
Ogle: “It’s held by a trust and I think it’s on the market. My headquarters, Matt, and all the years I’ve sat with you in this building and in your previous building, in Abbey Street, you were over there once too, my headquarters is in Abbey Street..”
Ogle: “It’s always been in Abbey Street and what we are saying, putting on the record today, we’ve issued a statement at 5pm is that Unite trade union did that with charities working in the NGO sector. Focus Ireland, I believe, will confirm that – that could have been confirmed, had RTE simply waited until today. But there was a rush to judgment. There was an agenda set, in my honestly and earnestly held opinion and it’s unbecoming journalism and it’s unbecoming of the national broadcaster.”
Cooper: “Ok, but even if Focus Ireland didn’t want to use it, and I’ll come back and I’m going to ask the question: a lot of people would have said, if Focus Ireland had gone into Apollo House, they would have said that wasn’t suitable either. Now, you decided to takeover Apollo House, make it suitable, and the question is, if your issue was looking after homeless people, instead of occupying a building belonging to somebody else, why did you not use a building to which you had access?”
Ogle: “Our issue wasn’t looking after homeless people. Our issue was forcing the Government to fulfil its obligation to look after homeless people. The role, the job of looking after homeless people does not fall on Brendan Ogle’s office, on Jimmy Kelly’s office and Jim Sheridan’s house and Glen Hansard’s wardrobe – it falls on the Government. And the Government have a land bank called Nama and Apollo House was full of Nama. By the way, Apollo House, Matt, would accommodate ten times’ the number of homeless people and an awful lot quicker. We were able to kit it out in a day and a half. That could never have been done in any other building of a similar size and no other building of a similar size was available anyway.”
Cooper: “Nama, though, has offered many properties to various local councils around the country, including Dublin City Council and the various councils have rejected many of those particular properties. So, Nama has actually tried to give properties – is that not an issue? So, why takeover a Nama commercial building for this particular purpose?”
Ogle: “Well, Nama has offered buildings that local authorities have thought to be unsuitable and Nama has refused to offer other buildings that local authorities have sought – these are two arms of the State. Hold on, Matt, now. These are two arms of the State who are talking to each other against a background of at least 7,000 officially homeless people. Now, can I just make this point, Matt, because I don’t know how long we’ve got. I’m happy to stay here all night. But can I make this point: what is so wrong about people giving up their Christmas, using their energy, their activism and their resources – there was no homeless person who died on the streets of Dublin this Christmas, none. There was a fantastic atmosphere in Apollo House, it has put an historic spotlight on this emergency…”
Cooper: “But hold on a second, Brendan, that wasn’t all down to you…in fairness…”
Ogle: “No, no…”
Cooper: “I’m not criticising your bona fides in relation to this, right. But there’s the work of the likes of the Simon Community, the Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, the work by Dublin City Council as well – in putting new facilities in place. There are an awful lot of people, even before you came along…”
Cooper: “With the Home Sweet Home campaign who have been trying their damnedest…”
Ogle: “Absolutely, and Matt, you’ve never heard me and nobody has ever heard me saying a bad word against any of those people. And despite their best efforts, despite their very best efforts, homelessness continues to skyrocket, we’ve got over 7,000 people, we’ve got Santa Claus coming to hotels and a lot of those people have discussed it with Home Sweet Home and discussed it with me, and discussed it with other people over the last few weeks. This has helped those people and those agencies make the case: what is so objectionable about that?”
Cooper: “Ok, but isn’t Nama’s remit, as set down by legislation, to get as much money back as possible for the State?”
Ogle: “No, it’s not. Section 14 of the Nama Act 2009 provides a remit for Nama to be aware of their social responsibilities. Home Sweet Home have written to the Minister for Finance on this issue, asking to act on it. He sent a holding response two and a half weeks ago – saying he would send a more detailed response which still is not forthcoming. Matt, we do not accept, Home Sweet Home do not accept, and Unite trade union do not accept that Nama is fulfilling the social responsibility ascribed to it, under Section 14 of the 2009 act.”
Cooper: “But, on your website, that you set up, and it’s a pretty basic website, Home Sweet Home, you don’t mention…Nama at all…”
Ogle: “I didn’t set it up..”
Cooper: “Ok, well somebody from Home Sweet Home set up this. It’s a website setting out your objectives under homelessness now. And Nama is actually not mentioned there.”
Ogle: “Well, Nama has been central, Matt. That’s why we wrote a five-page letter to [Minister for Finance] Michael Noonan. When Unite were approached by the artists – so when everybody is attacking Unite, a union that has put more resources into campaigning on water, on change and on homelessness than any other union in Ireland in the last number of years – which seems to be scaring the wits of some people – let me finish, Matt. When…”
Talk over each other
Ogle: “When I got approached by the artists, I got asked to procure, if possible, a Nama building. The Home Sweet Home is specific to forcing the Government. Matt, we can all do our best, the citizens of Ireland, for many, many years have been doing their best to address the homelessness situation in many, many ways. The charities you’ve named have as well. It’s the Government that needs to be forced to do it and Nama was the vehicle. And John Kilraine knows that.”
Cooper: “Ok, we have a statement from RTE because you [Brendan Ogle] have a fairly extensive Facebook post about this…”
Ogle: “I have..”
Cooper: “It says:
‘While we welcome feedback and have processes in place to facilitate feedback and official complaints, we strongly condemn personal attacks on our journalists and presenters. RTE stands by yesterday’s report and its reporting of the Apollo House story which we are satisfied has been fair and accurate’.
Ogle: “Well I will let the listeners and the viewers of RTE judge whether a report that was rushed out – without giving us the two days, two working days is all we requested – and which now turns out we had offered the building to Focus Ireland and other NGOs which can identify themselves and it didn’t meet with Alan Kelly’s provisions in any case. Of course RTE are going to defend their man. I think it’s an appalling standard of journalism and, to be honest with you, it’s something, through the water campaign, we’ve learned to expect from RTE.”
Listen back in full here
Yesterday: The Man In The Van
Previously: The Myth Of The Sinister Fringe
From top: Console CEO Paul Kelly and the charity’s former patron Mary McAleese in 2011; The panel on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne last night
On Tonight with Vincent Browne, hosted by Matt Cooper, the panel discussed the payments made to Console CEO Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and son Tim – as recently reported by RTE Investigates.
The panel included Fine Gael Senator Michael Conway, Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins; interim CEO of Console David Hall; and columnist with the Irish Independent Colette Browne.
Matt Cooper: “Did this come out of nowhere, is this only something that’s happened in recent times? Or for how long have people in authority been aware that there’s a problem?”
David Hall: “You know my function, when we came in, was to carry out this review and as I said to everyone concerned at the time, only the truth will be expressed from mine and those involved’s perspective. The review and the analysis of the HSE began in April 2015. The first interim report was given on the 1st of July, 2015. These are the documents I’ve seen and I have. The…”
Cooper: “A year ago?”
Hall: “A year ago. The ninth…”
Cooper: “Money was still being given to Console, Console was still actually taking money from the public, was getting money from the State, for a year after the HSE knew there was a big problem here?”
Hall: “Yes. The ninth version of this report was given to the board in March of this year.”
Cooper: “The ninth?”
Hall: “The ninth version and there is one more version I believe which is being tided up and is the final version not yet released by the HSE. The last version I have, and the one I relied upon in court today, with Justice Gilligan was version number nine. 176 pages. Actually, and this might sound a bit odd to say this but it’s a brilliant report. The people who conducted, this actually makes the situation ten times worse than you would imagine. The quality and the content of that report would be, for its investigative manners and information that it garnished, is brilliant.”
Watch back in full here
Previously: No Consolation
Fighting on the Internet.
They follow you around the station.
Paul Mallon writes:
Doff of the cap to the person who’s taken the time to put googly eyes on Matt Cooper at the DART station – cheering up the morning.
Neil Francis appeared on Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper this evening to explain his comments regarding gay people and sports. They were joined by Nigel Owens, the first openly gay international rugby referee.
Matt Cooper:“I’ve know Neil Francis for over 20 years. I’ve worked with him at the Sunday Tribune, when I was the editor there. He was rugby columnist from 1996 onwards, and when I came here in 2003 to present the Last Word he’d already been contributing as a rugby analyst and he’s continued to do so over the last 11 years, as one of our main rugby analysts.
Yesterday, Neil was on another radio station, he was on Newstalk. As part of a panel discussion he was discussing an article, an excellent article that Joe Brolly wrote for yesterday’s Mail on Sunday about homosexuality and sport. He made a number of comments which you have have seen in various reports today, you may have seen on various websites, which were in my view highly offensive and downright stupid.
Some of the comments are like this, about people who are gay and play sport, ‘What are their interests? Have you ever sat down with homosexual people and asked them what their interests are? Very often they have no interest in any kind of sport. That’s my experience from sitting down with them. I’ve done it on a regular basis.’ Here’s another one, ‘You do a survey of the hairdressing industry and find out how many heterosexuals work in that. There are a wide range of people who are homosexual, the environment that they’re in isn’t something they are interested in. Do you know what I’m saying?’ and another one ‘it’s all based …. it’s not a generalisation. In every sphere of life, every year that you meet a gay man or gay people in a social environment, they’ve very little interest in sport. I don’t have an interest in ballet.’
He was also asked about Michael Sam, a gay American Footballer, a college student who’s about to be drafted, who recently came out. He said, ‘I noticed him because he was very flamboyant, a bit of a showman.’ He equated Sam’s ‘coming out’ with ‘Jimi Hendrix talking about Janis Joplin’s death as a great career move.’
Before I talk to Neil Francis, I want to play a bit of audio for you. This is a man called Dale Hansen from News 8 in Texas, who made a comment, made a little speech on television the other day about Michael Sam, and his potential in the draft. [Watch here]
Cooper: “That was Dale Hansen, of News 8, talking in Texas about Michael Sam. Neil Francis good evening to you.”
Francis: “Hi Matt.”
Cooper: “Neil, you’ve taken a lot of criticism over the last 24 hours. You’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what you said. What is your position now?”
Francis: “Well, I, when I got home I had a listen to the interview again, and I must say it was, it didn’t sound at all like me in a sense. A lot of people who listened to it sort of said ‘that’s not your form, and I realised I was in a kind of, a field of landmines, and I stood on one or two. And, some of the points I was trying to make were, I suppose, very clumsily made, and my language and the analogies I was trying to make were quite poor, and quite poorly expressed, and it’s just unusua for me not to be able to articulate myself but on this instance I was unable to do so.
So, listening to what I said last night, OK on reflection, I probably said some of the wrong things, and the things were extremely clumsy, and in this instance, on reflection, I would like to withdraw those comments and apologise profusely and unreservedly for any issues that might have offended anyone who might have heard them or who felt offence from what I said.”
Cooper: “Nigel Owens, good evening to you.”
Nigel Owens: “Good evening.”
Cooper: “You’ve heard about what Neil Francis said, I’m aware, you heard him there apologise, is that god enough for you?”
Owens: “Yes, it’s good that he’s been able to go back and reflect on what he said. We all make mistakes in our lives. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes on the field, and apologies are fine as long as those apologies are genuine and from the heart, and I certainly hope that Neil’s apologies are genuine and are from the heart and not something that he’s been pressurised into with all the outpouring that has come from all walks of life. Irish player, Welsh players, people all over twitter and stuff the last 24 hours, Facebook, you know have been condemning his words. If his apologies are genuine then it is good to hear him apologise. I don’t know Neil personally, I’ve never met him, I know of him. I can’t say what the man is like because I don’t know. If they are genuine then it’s good to hear that
[talk over each other].
Cooper: “Nigel, Neil’s just after saying that he did meet you but you obviously didn’t make enough of an impression when you met him.”
Owens: “Well, I’ll remember you next time, that’s for sure!”
Cooper: “Can I ask you Neil: this is a genuine apology that you’re giving?”
Francis: “It is. I mean people know who I am, I say what I mean. I wouldn’t say this unless I meant it.”
Cooper: “Back to you Nigel. You wanted to come in again there.”
Owens: “No, this is what I think, you know. I’ve had people in this situation before saying things and they didn’t mean it that way, and that’s where we have, especially someone with Neil’s stature, and the responsibility that he has, about wearing that green jersey 15- 20 years ago,the responsibility he has and the influence also you must remember.
I think we just have to sometimes think long and hard before we say things because when we give things out there… everyone has his opinion and is entitled to his own opinion, and that should always be respected, but when that opinion is given out there and it’s the wrong opinion, you know I’ve sat down with people from sport who are gay, who are not out and who are out and I don’t know who Neil has sat down and spoken to but certainly they’re not the people I have sat down and spoken to, and I know a lot of gay people in rugby from the professional end to the community end of the game, and I know many more who haven’t had the courage yet, for whatever reason, to come out or don’t want to come out and that has to be respected aswell. It is their choice.
I think this is a message for everybody out there to think sometimes, sometimes after we’ve said it we realise what we said and the context it’s been taken in. It is a message learned for people here. Make sure you think thoroughly about what you’re saying and get your facts right asel you know.”
Cooper: “Neil, one of the reaons why i was so shocked and offended by what you said yesterday when I read the transcripts and when I listened back today was, I remember our time in the Sunday Tribune, that you assisted a rugby player who actually decided to come out, by writing his story in the Sunday Tribune with him at the time.”