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RTÉ payout after Panti interview was 'moronic', says Graham Norton

The BBC presenter was critical of the “tiny minority” of highly vocal opponents to same-sex marriage.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

TELEVISION PRESENTER GRAHAM Norton has said RTE’s payment of damages to five people over a claim by drag artist Rory O’Neill that they were homophobic was “moronic” and “gutless”.

In an interview published in Hot Press magazine today, the BBC chat show host criticised some opponents of same-sex marriage for choosing the legal route rather than having a discussion about homophobia.

“I want to ask these people [opponents of same-sex marriage], ‘Why are you so scared and intimidated by the idea of gay marriage?’” he says in the interview. “There’s nothing  positive in their life; what drives them is fear”.

“They love using language – they’re ‘pro-this’ but actually they’re just against stuff. It’s a really horrible, sucking the joy out of life attitude, so you feel sorry for them”.

RTE paid out €85,000 in total to journalists and members of Catholic lobby group the Iona Institute within days of the interview with Rory O’Neill on The Saturday Night Show after host Brendan O’Connor asked O’Neill to name people he believed to be homophobic.  O’Connor also read out an apology on the show the week after the interview.

“I’m not registered to vote in Ireland but I do pay the licence fee there [...],” Norton says. “RTÉ settling wasn’t gutless, it was absolutely moronic”.

Norton, who now lives in England but who grew up in Cork, said opponents of same sex marriage are now out of touch with attitudes in Ireland.

“I pretty much spend my entire summer near to where I grew up in Bandon,” he says. “It’s such a different place. It takes pride in accepting all types of people. There’s more than 40 shades of green”.

This tiny minority can yell all they want, but it’s over. It’s all done.
The Iona Institute and people like that are like rats trapped in the corner of a barn. They know the jig is up. That’s why they’re screaming so loud.

The full interview with Norton appears in the new issue of Hot Press which is out today.

Panti: I’m expecting an apology from RTE >

Damien Kiberd: RTÉ thinks it played safe on Pantigate – I beg to differ >

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