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panti debate

O'Brien accepts RTÉ apology, but says broadcaster 'let its standards slip'

Meanwhile, Colm O’Gorman has said he was “stunned” by how the situation had developed.

BREDA O’BRIEN HAS given her first public comment on the payment she received from broadcaster RTÉ following comments made on the Saturday Night Show.

She was speaking alongside Colm O’Gorman on the Late Debate on RTÉ Radio 1 tonight. Presenter Audrey Carville brought up the issue of the financial settlement paid by RTÉ to columnist O’Brien and others, including the Iona Institute, of which O’Brien is a patron, following the comments made by Rory O’Neill, aka Panti.

RTÉ did not issue a statement to the programme but O’Brien and fellow panellist Colm O’Gorman were asked for their opinion.

O’Brien said that RTÉ had “left [sic] its standards slip in that regard” but was “big enough to come forward and apologise”. She said that she was:

very pleased with that and very pleased to accept the apology and move forward.

O’Gorman said he was “rather stunned where all of this has gotten to” and that he doesn’t understand “how we are ever going to have reasoned debate if we don’t challenge each others’ viewpoints”.

He described O’Neill’s interview with Saturday Night Show presenter Brendan O’Connor as “one of the most considered, inclusive, insightful explorations of how we are all capable of holding views that are discriminatory and can cause us to make statements that are hurtful, damaging or destructive of other people”.

O’Brien said that “if it had been a case that it was talking about in general us all examining our consciences”, she doesn’t think that she or other people would have been in discussions with RTÉ.

She said the issue was on naming specific individuals not there to defend themselves and “claiming bad faith on their part”. O’Brien said that her position, which is that a child where possible should be reared by their own mother and father, was “deemed homophobic commentary”.

She said that the subsequent reaction to the situation was “far from a rational and calm debate” and “this is going way into the territory of saying we will declare your views out of order before you even begin”.


O’Gorman said that RTÉ needs to explain the basis on which it feels entitled to pay taxpayer funds to the individuals involved, and that the basis on which RTÉ found the comments defamatory “has to be explained”.

O’Brien said she is “happy to be challenged” on issues but that “you can’t have rational debate where people’s good faith is impugned”, instead of “looking at trying to create an atmosphere where people can speak to each other in reasonable terms”.

O’Gorman said that he does not understand how challenging people to examine the basis on which they put forward certain arguments is defamatory. He said he will defend O’Brien’s right and other people’s right “to say things I find offensive” but that he thinks he also has a right to find the comments offensive.

Read: More than 100 complaints about Panti appearance and RTÉ apology>

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