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RTE paid out €85,000 in 'homophobe' row


Pussy Riot members  Maria Alyokhina and  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

RTE paid out a total of €85,000 to six people, including the journalists John Waters and Breda O'Brien of the Irish Times, David Quinn, head of the Iona Institute, and other institute members over a claim on the Saturday Night Show that they were homophobic.

And it now appears that some of the money will be going to a fund to commemorate Iona member Tom O'Gorman, who was savagely murdered in his Dublin home.

The claim of homophobia was made by drag artist Rory O'Neill, who performs under the stage name of Miss Panti, during an interview in which he referred to the debate on legislation for same-sex marriage and adoption.

Mr Waters is believed to have received the largest share of the settlement – €30,000 – with the rest being shared among the others.

The remaining Iona Institute members who threatened legal action against RTE were Dr Patricia Casey, the well-known psychiatrist; Dr John Murray and Ms Maria Steen.

An RTE source yesterday said that it made the decision to settle on pragmatic grounds, as it believed that going to court could potentially have cost the cash-strapped station "hundreds of thousands of euros", according to the station's legal advice.

It is understood that all six litigants were offered the opportunity of a right of reply. While some of them initially seemed willing to take up that offer, they declined after taking legal advice.

All six were also offered the opportunity to take part in a debate on last night's Saturday Night Show, but this was also turned down.

Mr Waters  confirmed that he turned down an offer to appear on last night's show.

Mr Quinn yesterday also confirmed that he had declined an offer to appear on last night's show.

During the discussions with RTE, there were initial suggestions that the station might make a number of charitable donations but it was unclear yesterday if that offer still stood and how much would go to charitable causes.

Last week, the Iona Institute announced that it was setting up a charity in memory of Mr O'Gorman, the murdered institute member.

Mr Quinn told the Sunday Independent that it had not yet been decided how the money raised for the fund would be spent.

That would have to be decided at a meeting of the Iona Institute board, but it would probably have some sort of educational element, whether a lecture series or internship, he said.

He confirmed that some part of the money the Iona Institute received from RTE would go to the planned fund.

Ms O'Brien added: "I will definitely be donating some of the money to the Tom O'Gorman fund. I want to remember Tom."

Mr Waters last week resigned his membership of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Willie Kealy and Niamh Horan

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