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Saturday 23 August 2014

Waters 'yet to decide' if any of €40,000 settlement will go to charity

Jerome Reilly and Kirsty Blake Knox

Published 08/02/2014 | 02:30

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Image Name:Artist Nick Miller and writer John Waters, in the background Nick's portrait of John
John Waters

COLUMNIST John Waters has yet to decide whether he will give any of the €40,000 defamation settlement paid to him by RTE to charity.

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The writer's solicitor revealed yesterday that he had sought a €15,000 donation to St Vincent de Paul over comments made on the 'Saturday Night Show'.

However, RTE refused to air an apology written by Mr Waters and the legal wrangling continued.

Speaking with the Irish Independent yesterday, his solicitor Kevin Brophy said "the donation to the SVP was proposed at the outset of the argument" but the situation changed.

"RTE suggested giving the total sum (€40,000) to charity but John decided to take it and has yet to decide what to do with it. But there are several charities he works closely with," he said.

Mr Waters criticised RTE's statement this week explaining why it paid a total of €85,000 in settlements to him, fellow 'Irish Times' columnist Breda O'Brien and the Iona Institute.

That settlement was for alleged defamatory comments on the 'Saturday Night Show', which made certain remarks in relation to alleged homophobia.

RTE deemed Mr Waters' proposed apology as "unacceptable". The apology, seen by the Irish Independent, included four references to Mr O'Neill.

Mr Brophy said RTE proposed a €5,000 donation to SVP rather than the €15,000 requested. "RTE were not happy to broadcast the apology we had drafted and instead said they intended to go ahead with a totally unsatisfactory two-sentence statement," he said.

Yesterday, Mr Waters said his "reputation was destroyed" and when he "tried to vindicate it" he was "demonised".

RTE said that John Waters' proposed apology was "unacceptable" to them as it required RTE to issue a definitive statement describing Rory O'Neill's opinions as "completely unfounded".

An RTE source said several 'alternative apologies' were proposed to Mr Waters and his lawyer Mr Brophy but there "was no movement".

RTE justified the payment of €85,000, saying they had "explored every option available to it."

Mr Brophy described RTE's account as "misleading", saying "John Waters and the Iona Institute clients wanted an apology, a retraction and nothing else".

RTE said yesterday it was sticking to its original statement. "RTE have provided a fair and accurate account of the negotiations and their conclusions," a statement from the broadcaster stated.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny waded into the debate.

"RTE have said that they have examined all of this and in the interests of the situation that they saw, they have made these payments," Mr Kenny said.

"But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have the opportunity for everybody to have a free and open conversation about issues that affect people."

Irish Independent

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