RORY O’NEILL, ALSO known as Panti, has said he is expecting an apology from RTE.
O’Neill said that RTE had blamed him for comments after he was asked directly by The Saturday Night Show presenter Brendan O’Connor to name people he believed to be homophobic.
In a wide-ranging interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio One this morning, O’Neill revealed that he has been approached by more than one political party about running in the upcoming local and European elections.
He ruled out any suggestion of running for election, saying that he was “not cut out to be a politician”. More than one political party has approached him about standing but he declined to name them.
O’Neill said that he was “waiting and expecting” an apology from RTE for several reasons but mainly for the apology that Brendan O’Connor read out on the show the week after O’Neill appeared on it.
“What they made Brendan say was that ‘it is nothing to do with us, it was our guest said it, and our views are not our guest’s'” O’Neill said.
“So essentially what they did was they stood up and pointed at me and said ‘he did it, he did it, he did it’.
“The suggestion was that I am a risky guest and that I cannot be trusted and that I went off and started defaming people. Well, that’s not who I am and that’s not what I did”.
Asked for his own definition of homophobia, O’Neill drew a distinction between people who hold passive views and people who actively campaign against equal rights for gay people, the latter of which he said was the kind of homophobia that can be publicly criticised.
O’Neill also questioned why the media gives such prominence to Catholic lobby group The Iona Institute.
O’Neill said the three weeks since his interview on The Saturday Night Show which provoked a €85,000 pay-out by RTE to five people over defamation claims had been a “wild sort of ride”.
He said the first few days after the incident were “stressful and difficult and unpleasant” but said that since the video of his speech at the Abbey Theatre had been released he felt that the tide has turned. “The tone of it all changed,” he said.
He said he had received “literally thousands of emails and Facebook messages” from all around the world from a wide variety of people, including people who weren’t gay but who still identified with the sentiments he expressed in the speech.
O’Neill said that he was asked to do the Noble Call speech on the Tuesday but only wrote it on the Saturday afternoon, just hours before appearing on stage at the Abbey. A video of the speech has been viewed more than 410,000 times and has been widely shared on social media.
O’Neill said the timing of the speech appealed to him.
“I realised that I would be making that speech at the exact same time that the Saturday Night Show was having their debate on homophobia, a debate that I’d been invited to attend but I didn’t really feel that I wanted to be in a sort of debate where there’s going to be a lot of heat and not so much light generated,” he said.
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