MENTION of drag artist Panti Bliss, who is at the centre of a row over an RTE libel payout, drew a large round of applause from Sinn Fein delegates at their Ard Fheis today.
Sinn Fein’s Lesbian, Gay Bi-Sexual and Transexual (LGBT) representative, Chris Curran, condemned the RTE decision to pay €85,000 to certain individuals and representatives of the Iona Institute.
He paid tribute to what he described as the courage shown by the drag artist Rory O’Neill.
“Panti, Sinn Fein LGBT commends you, for you represent the future of Ireland,” he said to warm applause from delegates at the conference in the Wexford Opera House.
Earlier, there was strong condemnation for the Government's performance to date. Sinn Fein Cllr Kathleen Funchion from Kilkenny city said it was time her county colleague and Environment Minister Phil Hogan “got his P45”.
Sinn Fein’s European elections candidate in Dublin, Lynn Boylan, spoke of the differences between a small elite and the bulk of people.
She contrasted the payout to Central Remedial Clinic boss, Paul Kiely, and the plight of the children who depend on that clinic’s services, and she said there was a world of difference between the situation of the country’s most celebrated pensioner, Michael Fingleton, and ordinary pensioners.
The first standing ovation of the day went to Belfast teacher, Catherine Seely, who had to quit her job at a largely-Protestant school in Belfast due to sectarian intimidation.
Ms Seely, a member of Craigavon Borough Council in Armagh, paid tribute to the pupils of school who showed great solidarity with her situation.
“They are a testimony to the values that should permeate not just education but every aspect of society. They inspire hope and confidence in me for the future," she said of the pupils of the Model School in north Belfast.