JOURNALIST AND COLUMNIST John Waters stormed off Eamon Dunphy’s podcast The Stand today, calling Dunphy a “fucking bollocks”.
Dunphy had been recording an episode of the discussion podcast that was to host Waters arguing against repealing the Eighth Amendment and then a separate interview where Una Mullally argues in favour.
However after just 13 minutes, Waters left the studio, after reacting negatively to Dunphy’s line of questioning and what he felt was the set-up of the interview.
Waters begins the podcast saying that he was never “in the battle” for the Eighth Amendment in 1983, saying he “can’t remember” his original position on it.
Dunphy then asks Waters about the use of the term “unborn”.
“The interesting thing is that the Irish wording is amazing…the Irish word is na mheoig gan breith – the living without birth.
“The problem is, and this has been borne out in various judgments and Mr Justice Hardiman, the late Justice Hardiman, had commented on this word unborn. He had said ‘the unborn what?’.
“And that’s kind of a trite question in one way, but it’s actually legally a very interesting question. And the point is – it’s the unborn child and “the unborn” is simply an adjective on that word child. It was actually the wrong word that was put into the Constitution – in my opinion.
“I would say that that wording is extraordinarily weak. And the strange thing is that not alone (Attorney General) Peter Sutherland, but my father who drove a mail car, was talking about this issue back in 1983. I remember him talking to pro-lifers at the church gate saying ‘There’s a flaw in this wording’.
“It’s very important to understand – the wording of Article 40.3.3 begins ‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn’. The third word there is critical. The State doesn’t extend or confer this right – neither does the Supreme Court or the electorate. It’s an antecedent right, an anterior right.
“Imprescriptible, it cannot be taken away, inalienable, it cannot be given up. And this is something we’re not being told about.
“These are fundamental rights.”
Source: The Stand/SoundCloud
When Dunphy asks Waters when he believes life begins, Waters says that he believes it is at conception.
“There is no other point that you can identify in the process.”
Dunphy asks Waters about the morning-after pill, Waters responds:
“We’re not talking about abortion pills – we’re talking about wholesale slaughter, potentially up to the moment of birth and possibly even past it.”
Asked again about the morning-after pill, Waters says that he “doesn’t particularly think it’s ok”, but that it is “an entirely different matter”, before the conversation turns.
Waters: “What we’re talking about here is not the philosophical question of when life begins or whatever. What we’re talking about here is are we going to destroy the right to life of the child in the Constitution?
“With all due respect, this is typical of the kind of media attempt to turn this into something else, to talk about hard cases, to make fudgy philosophical arguments which will delay and frustrate and confuse the people about something that is so clear, so clear.
“We’re talking here about whether we want to walk into a polling booth, pick up a pencil and put on a black cap and condemn thousands of children to death for the rest of your life, every day, every day, every day, every day.
“That is the question.”
Dunphy: But, fundamental to that is, the shared, or an agreement as to when life, in the form.
W: Eamon, I’ve answered that question, I’ve said it begins at conception.
D: Please, just let me tease it out with you. Would you not agree that if you want to protect the right to life and the rights of the child, that you have to, in your mind, have some idea of when…
W: But Eamon, these are extraordinary philosophical questions, for example the idea of the abortion pill, nobody can know if there’s a child there or not, so it’s a little like…
D: I don’t like, let me make clear…
W: But these are needless…these are angels dancing on the head of a pin when in fact there are tanks coming down the main street.
D: Now, you’re trying to bully me now.
W: No, I’m not Eamon.
D: Then let me explain to you. What I’m saying to you is: when people talk about buying abortion pills on the internet.
W: This is not about abortion pills.
D: I know, but I’m saying…
W: We have 40 minutes to do an interview, can we talk about the issue? Or else I’m going home. I’m fed up of this. [moves away from microphone]
D: Ah don’t go.
W: You told me this would be a fair interview.
D: It will be.
W: It’s not a fair interview. You’re a bollocks, a fucking bollocks. Fuck off Eamon, you told me yesterday, you wanted to support…
D: I’m a No voter.
W: Talk to Una Mullally, fuck off.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Dunphy said:
I’m not an aggressive interviewer, and I have history with John – I’ve defended him when others wouldn’t. I thought he was not up for a discussion.
“My job in the podcast is to facilitate rather than push my own view. I didn’t want a debate with the type of hysteria and unpleasantness that turns people off.
“There are no heroes or villains on either side – just people.”
Speaking about his declaration that he is a No voter, he said he was an undecided voter – either a reluctant yes or a reluctant no.
He decided to publish the podcast in its shortened form to show “what these guys think”.
For his part, Waters accused Dunphy misleading him about the structure of the show.
Waters told TheJournal.ie:
“I received a message from Eamon Dunphy last Friday and called him back for a conversation that lasted around 20 minutes.”
“My understanding was that I was going to be able to address the misunderstandings around the debate.
“However, when I got to his studio, he told my wife he was a soft No voter.
He then told me Una Mullally was in after me. I said ‘What? You told me I was one-on-one’. Apprehensively I decided to continue. I didn’t at that point expect a set-up, but he seemed to have deceived me with regard to the set up.
“He immediately went along with irrelevancies.
“The morning-after pill has zero to do with what we’re talking about.
“I said this is the same as the rest of the media, getting lost in irrelevancies. He then accused me of trying to bullying him. I said we’re about 10 minutes through the interview and hadn’t got to the first issue I wanted to address. So I told him to fuck right off.
“I have no regrets (about leaving). I have deep regrets I ever saw Eamon Dunphy in my life and I will never see him again.”
With reporting from Sinead O’Carroll.