Thursday 20 June 2019

They're dying to get into Panti's

Pantibar: Panti Bliss, aka Rory O'Neill,
Pantibar: Panti Bliss, aka Rory O'Neill,
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Last night was just another Saturday night at Pantibar. On the stage, Joan Burton is singing It's Raining Men, Gerry Adams is standing at the bar, bopping along. He has shaved off his beard, leaving just a large bushy moustache.

Shane Ross is there, causing confusion by talking about looking for like-minded people for a loose alliance, promising he will not be applying the whip.

Enda is in his usual spot in the corner, buying everyone Sex on the Beaches and telling them how he was coming here before any of them. It seems like the whole of Leinster House is here. Even Simon Coveney is here. His hair is shaved slightly tighter and he is wearing leather chaps. "It's not just Leo. I'm totally down with the gays too. Sure, I'm straight, but I've seen Brokeback Mountain."

Miriam O'Callaghan is outside on Capel Street in the 2fm Roadcaster. For tonight it has been painted pink and renamed the Outcaster, and is in situ in case any other politicians would like to out themselves under Miriam's empathic gaze. Claire Byrne silently fumes in a corner trying to get someone's brother on Skype.

A stream of politicians filters through Miriam's mobile studio. Most of them stop short of actually coming out, but many of them express doubts about their sexuality, or allude to an incident at boarding school. Some admit to a fondness for the music of the Pet Shop Boys, or a liking for interior design. The females try to mention girl crushes on the gym teacher.

Breda O'Brien, apparently one of only three people in Ireland who has any questions about gay marriage, is obviously there too. You see, because we are in the run-up to a referendum, Pantibar, like everywhere else, is required to have balance, and in general, under the so-called 'Breda test', the presence of Breda O'Brien is deemed sufficient to balance out any situation that the BAI might deem "too gay".

Indeed there is talk that as it gets closer to the vote there will be a statutory requirement that wherever more than one gay man or woman congregates, Breda will have to be there to balance the situation. Of course, this creates another problem because The Irish Times also insists, for their part, that Breda O'Brien has to be balanced at all times by fellow columnist Una Mullally. This essentially means that Una will have to go everywhere with Breda for the next few months and both will have to be permitted equal speaking time in all social situations. This creates its own problems, like when Breda and Una appear together on radio or TV.

In this case there has to be balance also. If your panel is made up of 50pc Irish Times columnists then the other half of the panel has to be taken from that sector of the population who are not Irish Times panellists, which can be a stretch for some TV and radio people.

Back in Pantibar, the night is winding down. Enda lingers over a last drink. "Everyone told me," he says, "that once I got into Panti's I'd never want to leave. It's so true. . . so true."

Sunday Independent

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