Friday 25 May 2018

Pat Kenny claims his Newstalk radio show was 'targeted in an organised way' by pro-life campaigners

Pat Kenny
Pat Kenny

Kathy Armstrong

Pat Kenny has claimed that his radio show was "targeted in an organised way" after an interview with a pro-choice campaigner.

The broadcaster has said that there was a backlash after Dr Peter Boylan, chairperson of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, appeared on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk to urge people to vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Kenny told listeners today: "Yesterday after the programme we had a huge number of texts and communication coming in, all using a similar phrase.

"I know this programme was targeted in some sort of organised way because this phrase was used in all of the texts.

"It's very curious, a phrase used by Mattie McGrath which said that the Government had given Peter Boylan "free reign" and it appeared again and again, it could have been bizarre and coincidental, perhaps."

Read More: RTÉ receives complaints about Claire Byrne Live abortion referendum debate

Maria Steen
Maria Steen

He was speaking during a heated debate with Maria Steen of the Iona Institute, who is campaigning for the No side.

Ms Steen alleged that Kenny's interview with Dr Boylan was "unfair."

She said: "I have the greatest respect for you as a broadcaster and I think you are one of the finest broadcasters in the country but I do think it was unfair.

"You called us absolutists and you allowed Peter to call us zealots, this is supposed to be a civilised debate."

He retorted: "Hang on for one minute, when I called you absolutists, I put this very point to you unchallenged in a one-to-one interview that your points are absolutists.

"It is precisely that, there is no negotiation or compromise...

"What I'm saying is there is no debate on this from you, as far as you are concerned terminations in any situation bar perhaps ectopic pregnancy...

"The point that I'm trying to make is that no matter what hard cases are made to you, and many people on the no side will agree with you, that no matter what the hard cases are, for example rape, incest, a twelve-year-old who is interfered with by a grandfather, uncle, whatever, in no circumstance are you willing to say a termination is okay - and that is absolutist, that is the point I'm making."

Dr Peter Boylan, chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr Peter Boylan, chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

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Ms Steen continued to say that she feels the pro-choice campaigners are not being questioned about the "hard cases."

"That's not fair, if somebody came to you and threated to attack and kill you, would you say your response to that would be absolutist?
"To defend a life is not an absolutist position.

"On the hard cases, Peter Boylan and the others don't get asked about the hard cases, for instance the abortion of children with disabilities, they don't get pressed on those questions.

"That's not fair, I'm happy to answer questions and every time that I'm in this studio I get grilled on hard cases and I'm happy to do that but it's only fair that you grill the other side too, this has massive ramifications for our society," she said.

He continued to question some of the argument put forward by the no side, saying: "You don't trust doctors to their jobs, the people who are actually at the coal face, the obstetricians and gynaecologists, you don't trust politicians and finally you don't trust women to do what they think is best with them."

She refuted this, saying that she is apprehensive about the government's position if the referendum passes after the vote on May 25.

She explained: "We don't trust politicians full stop, trust is something that has to be earned."

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