independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Rory O'Neill wants personal apology from RTE

Rory O’Neill wants a personal apology from RTÉ’s head of TV Glen Killane and has claimed that he has been treated badly by RTE over the ‘Pantigate’ controversy.

“I want him to call me as a person because if he asked his mother what should he do, his mother would say ‘Glen you call that man and apologise because you treated him really badly’,” he said.

However, he says he does not expect any public apology to be forthcoming from the broadcaster.

The controversy over ‘Pantigate’ began after Mr O’Neill – aka Miss Panti Bliss - appeared on RTÉ’s ‘Saturday Night Show’ with host Brendan O’Connor.

During the course of an interview with Mr O’Connor. where Mr O’Neill cited particular names – columnists John Waters, Breda O’Brien and the Iona Institute - in relation to a discussion about ‘homophobia’.

Two weeks after the interview, and a week after an apology was broadcast on the show, it emerged that RTE paid financial compensation of €85,000 to Mr Waters, Ms O’Brien and members of the Iona Institute for defamation.

Last week, Killane took the move to defend the compensation – and said RTE followed the best legal advice available to them.

Speaking about the controversy this morning, Mr O’Neill told Today FM’s Ray D’arcy he wants a personal apology from the RTE Head of TV.

“I’m not going to be sending solicitors to Glen Killane. I do not expect a public apology,” he told The Ray D’Arcy Show.

“I’m really annoyed about the apology [to the parties involved] because the impression has been given to the world that I’m some sort of rogue guest who ran off and started defaming people,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said he had no personal resentment towards the public service broadcaster.

“I don’t necessarily want an apology from RTÉ. People think RTÉ is this giant, monolithic, makes one big decision.

“RTÉ is a bunch of people and sometimes they’re running around like headless chickens and that’s what they did in this situation,” he said.

RTÉ Television managing director Killane confirmed there was an €85,000 payout over the comments on the 'Saturday Night Show'.

Mr O’Neill believes the station paid out “so quickly” to the parties involved because “they’re absolutely terrified”.

“RTÉ got into terrible trouble over the Father Reynolds affair and they made a huge mess up there, so now they’re absolutely petrified at the sight of a solicitors letter and they ran scared,” he said.

The national broadcaster is being called before an Oireachtas communications committee to discuss the controversy.

The apology by RTE and the settlement has provoked controversy and hundreds of complaints to the broadcaster. 

Nearly half a million people have watched a clip online of him delivering a passionate speech at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin about the difficulties he has experienced as a gay man.

Following the speech Mr O’Neill received messages of support, including messages of encouragement from famous faces Graham Norton, Madonna and Stephen Fry.

On Sunday more than 2,000 people congregated in Dublin city centre to protest at the treatment of debate around homophobia on RTE.

 

Listen back to the full interview here.

Aishling Phelan

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