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Stephen Fry slams RTE's handling of Pantigate as 'absolute disgrace' at awards bash

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Stephen Fry has more than 7.8million followers on Twitter

Stephen Fry has more than 7.8million followers on Twitter

Sharon Corr

Sharon Corr

Jenny Green

Jenny Green

Diana Bunici

Diana Bunici

Eoghan McDermott and Joanne Archbold

Eoghan McDermott and Joanne Archbold

Miss Panti

Miss Panti

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Stephen Fry has more than 7.8million followers on Twitter

Stephen Fry has hit out at RTE's handling of the so-called Pantigate affair, saying it was "an absolute disgrace".

Broadcaster and author Fry was in Dublin to present a People of the Year Award to Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, who was at the centre of the row earlier this year.

RTE paid €85,000 in damages to six people, including journalist John Waters and the Iona Institute, over remarks made by Mr O'Neill during the course of an interview on The Saturday Night Show.

"That RTE should make such a lickspittle spectacle of themselves . . . strikes me as an absolute disgrace," Fry told the Herald at the glitzy awards ceremony.

Fry presented "accidental activist" Panti Bliss with an award for courage and defiance in fighting for freedom of expression.

He also spoke of the importance of "celebrating people who are unusual and marginalised" and said he would have "swum across the Irish Sea" to hand Panti the accolade.

He was particularly keen to praise the "sheer rhetorical brilliance" of Panti's Noble Call Speech made on the Abbey Stage last February. "I thought it was one of the most moving and eloquent calls against oppression I have ever seen," he said.

"It is lovely to have won," Panti said. "But it's not about me - it's about a movement that has started for gay people in this country. I just happen to be the shiny one getting all the attention."

Garda whistleblowers John Wilson and Maurice McCabe and the Society of St Vincent de Paul were among those honoured at Rehab's 40th annual People of the Year Awards.

Paul Kelly of Console and Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental also received awards.

Mary and Tony Heffernan received an award for their dedication to helping the families of sick children.

The couple lost both their children, Saoirse and Liam, to the rare neuro-degenerative condition Batten's Disease.

The awards ceremony was hosted by Grainne Seoige and attracted a host of TV and radio celebs including Sile Seoige, Aoibhinn Garrihy, Aoibheann McCaul, Sharon Corr, Jenny Greene and Eoghan McDermott.

Sporting legends Bernard Brogan and Paul McGrath also turned out at Citywest to honour the award winners.

hnews@herald.ie


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