Tuesday 20 August 2019

Porter condemned groping in interview before being caught up in controversy

Comedian Al Porter Picture: David Conachy
Comedian Al Porter Picture: David Conachy
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Comedian Al Porter strongly condemned groping without consent, in an interview he did before he became embroiled in allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

The 24-year-old, from Tallaght, Dublin, is currently taking time away from the spotlight amid the allegations surrounding his conduct, which include groping.

In an interview conducted by 'Hot Press' contributing editor Olaf Tyaransen, Porter was asked about the spate of sex scandals sweeping the entertainment industry.

He said: "We're at a watershed moment culturally where what is seen as decent and acceptable behaviour is going to change, but it is important that we note that this is the defining moment and, going forward, I think a lot of people are going to change their behaviour."

He also condemned women being groped against their consent. "I don't care how provocatively a woman dresses, or how late at night she arranged to have a business meeting with you. Or whether it was in your hotel room or not. If you're grabbing her and she doesn't want it, you're in the wrong."

On the general issue of groping, Porter said: "I would hate to tar a comedian with that brush, but it is my experience that if you are in a gay bar, if I had a euro for every time I was grabbed or pulled or somebody laid a kiss on me and I wasn't expecting it at all...That kinda thing happens, for right or wrong."

In the wide-ranging interview, he also said that trial by media wasn't a good thing.

"We also still have to rely on the fact that if you have been abused or assaulted you should be able to trust the gardaí to investigate it on your behalf and for justice to prevail."

Porter also said he was not trying to be apologetic for people who have behaved inappropriately in the past, "but it's important for people to know what was and wasn't reciprocal, what was and wasn't consensual".

Meanwhile, in a separate interview he did before any allegations surfaced, Porter revealed if his career didn't work out, he could potentially teach drama.

"I always think of this: if Today FM fires me and the 'Star' stops wanting my columns, and people stop coming to the pantos and nobody wants me on TV, I'll teach drama.

"Sure I have the points in the Leaving Cert to go back and become a primary school teacher or something.

"Like, it's not the end of the world if you're not Graham Norton. Relax," he told 'The Irish Times' magazine publication 'It's Christmas'. Last Sunday, Porter announced he had informed Today FM he was resigning from the station with immediate effect.

The stand-up comedian was also due to take to the stage as the headline name in the 'Polly and the Beanstalk' panto at the Olympia from December 15.

However, he stood aside from the role earlier this week.

In the statement issued last Sunday, Porter did not comment on specific allegations, on legal advice. "While my conduct, which had been in keeping with my flamboyant and outrageous public persona, may be regarded as offensive and unacceptable by many people, I at no time intended to upset anyone."

He said that he was truly sorry "for any distress I may have caused in what I had regarded as light-hearted and good-natured circumstances".

The latest edition of 'Hot Press' is available in stores today.

Irish Independent

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