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Senator admits 'Playboy' speech was taken from Sunday Times column

Senator Mary Ann O’Brien urged the government to examine proposals to block online pornography yesterday but her speech was largely taken from a column by the Sunday Times columnist Eleanor Mills.

Mary Ann O'Brien
Mary Ann O'Brien
Image: Screengrab

AN INDEPENDENT SENATOR has admitted that she took comments she made in the Seanad on her concerns about children’s access to pornography from a column published in the Sunday Times last month.

Mary Ann-O’Brien has confirmed that remarks she made during the Order of Business yesterday, in which she urged the government to consider blocking access to online pornography, were from an Eleanor Mills column in the Sunday Times which was published on 16 June.

“It was my intention to attribute her work during my contribution something which I sadly failed to do,” O’Brien, the co-founder of the Jack and Jill Foundation and Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates, admitted in a statement to TheJournal.ie today.

O’Brien caused a stir when she said yesterday: “I never thought that I would stand in the Irish Seanad and feel nostalgic for Hustler, Penthouse or Playboy. But now we have got to admit to ourselves today that we have to think of them as part of the good ol’ days.”

However an analysis of this and the rest of her short speech shows that that comment and several others are similar or exactly the same as those in a column entitled ‘Generation Porn’ by Mills:

Example 1

Mary Ann O’Brien: “We are allowing our children to see material that a decade ago would have been accessible only in an extreme fetish club.”

Eleanor Mills: “We are allowing our children to see adult material that a decade or so ago would have been accessible only in a sex shop or an extreme fetish club.”

Example 2

Mary Ann O’Brien: “If people do not believe me, they should type ‘YouPorn’ or ‘RedTube’ into Google and see the options that come up.”

Eleanor Mills: “If you don’t believe me, type ‘YouPorn’ or ‘RedTube’ into Google and see the options that come up.”

Example 3

O’Brien: “The effect on children is devastating. They think these gross scenes are normal and set out to copy them as they take their first steps in getting together with other people in sexual activity.”

Mills: “The effect is devastating: they think these gross scenes are normal and set out to copy them as they take their first steps in sexual activity.”

Example 4

O’Brien: “I never thought I would stand up in the Irish Seanad and feel nostalgic for Hustler, Penthouse or Playboy but we must now admit that we must think of them as part of the good old days.”

Mills: “As Gail Dines, professor of sociology at Wheelock College in Boston and author of Pornland, told the conference last week: ‘I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for Hustler and Penthouse, but now I think of them as part of the good old days.’”

Example 5

O’Brien: “What can be done? We must warn our children that they are likely to come across pornography but also warn them that it is not what most of us think of as sex.”

Mills: “So what can be done? We must warn our children that they are likely to come across pornography at some point but also warn them that what they will see is not what most of us think of as sex.”

In her full statement issued to this website, O’Brien said: “I wish to confirm that some of my remarks yesterday on the Order of Business in the Seanad were from Eleanor Mills column in the Sunday Times.

“It was my intention to attribute her work during my contribution something which I sadly failed to do.

“It was not my intention to claim credit for the excellent information contained within the article in fact I would applaud any journalist or columnist who raises and writes about such important topics which too often do not get covered by the main stream media. ”

O’Brien said she would ensure the official record of the Seanad would be corrected to credit Mills’s work.

Contacted by TheJournal.ie Mills said she was “quite flattered” that her work was quoted in the Irish senate but said she would have preferred if it had been attributed to her.

“What’s important is the idea and why it is important that they’re some sort of filters [that prevent children from accessing pornography], and that that idea is widely propagated. The more widely repeated it is the better,” she said.

Senator: ‘We have to think of Playboy as part of the good old days’

Read: IKEA taking action against furniture ‘porn’ site

More: Buying sex should be a crime, selling it should not – Oireachtas committee

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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