Sunday 17 December 2017

College 'sorry' for homophobic email about Zappone and wife

Dr Ann Louise Gilligan (left) with Katherine Zappone. Picture: Tom Burke
Dr Ann Louise Gilligan (left) with Katherine Zappone. Picture: Tom Burke

Sarah Slater

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone and her late wife Dr Ann Louise Gilligan were the subject of a homophobic email the same day the respected lecturer passed away.

Dr Gilligan was cremated following a humanist ceremony held in The Helix auditorium on Saturday.

A former work colleague of Dr Gilligan, who died last Thursday after a short illness, sent an email to all Dublin City University academic staff in what appeared at first to be a letter of condolence.

But the former employee claimed that same-sex attraction was a "disorder" and that a lack of religious faith impacted on sexuality.

The university was later forced to apologise to Ms Zappone over the incident and said the comments were "offensive".

The email from the former colleague referred to Dr Gilligan as a "good friend and former colleague for almost 40 years" and said it was a privilege to know her.

However, it went on to say: "I valued Ann Louise's and Katherine's friendship all the more because it did not prevent me giving expression to the fact that same-sex attraction is a disorder that can be overcome and affected individuals restored to orderly sexual orientation."

He then turned his attention to the work of Ms Zappone in relation to the abortion issue. "Please God, she may have regained her belief and returned to the practice of the faith."

The University issued an apology in an email and on its official Twitter account.

"Dublin City University would like to take the opportunity to comment on an email sent to all staff at Dublin City University, regarding the passing of our esteemed former colleague Dr Ann Louise Gilligan.

"The views expressed in this email are offensive. They were made in a personal capacity by an individual who is not a member of DCU staff. The individual retired from St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, a number of years ago."

The statement went on to add that university officials had suspended his account.

Irish Independent

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