Ireland responds to Dublin Pride and RTÉ fallout

Key figures such as Minister Roderic O’Gorman, RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy and Oireachtas member Malcolm Byrne have all shared their views.

Collage of Irish people who responded to Dublin Pride and RTÉ fallout.
Image: (Left-Right) Twitter: @DrHaroldNews, Instagram: @PantiBliss, Twitter: @RodericOGorman

On the eve of Tuesday, June 14, Dublin Pride announced the termination of its partnership with RTÉ, and key figures in the LGBTQ+ and wider Irish community have been responding to the fallout. The decision came after the national broadcaster was accused of airing “unacceptable, triggering and extremely harmful anti-trans ‘discussions’,” across consecutive days on the Radio 1 Liveline programme.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, weighed in on the issue, saying that Transgender people should not have their “basic rights debated quite so vigorously or in an ill-informed way”. He added that these discussions should begin with the real-life experiences of Trans people.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland expressed similar views at the Trans Equality Together coalition launch on Monday, June 13, saying that the subject was “being played out in the most appalling, disgusting way on our national airwaves in the name of public debate.” LGBTQ+ activist Dr Ailbhe Smyth was also present at the aforementioned event, and commented: “It is not the role of our national broadcaster to enable or encourage hate speech of any kind.”

National treasure Panti Bliss has been detailing her thoughts on the matter on Twitter, writing: “If you want to know about trans people, talk to trans people*. This is especially true if you’re going to talk about them in print, on TV, or on the bloody radio.”

In the wake of the Dublin Pride fallout, RTÉ issued a statement saying it was “disappointed with the decision to end a partnership we had developed together with a range of bodies over the last three years.” It added: “Public discussions – sometimes uncomfortable, difficult, and contentious – is central to RTÉ’s prescribed purpose.”

One of the network’s leading stars Ryan Tubridy spoke on his radio show about the news, saying: “I’m disappointed that the Pride organisation has cut its ties from RTÉ for the moment.” He continued: “I hope it’s a temporary decision. I don’t think I can think of an organisation more committed to what they do than RTÉ. That’s the truth.

“Down through the years that would be my observation, few organisation left wanting in their support, broadly speaking, for the LGBTQ+ community.”

He backed his colleague Joe Duffy, maintaining that “Liveline is a programme that indulges in robust debate and I think the world needs robust debates and sometimes in the course of robust debate you mightn’t like what you hear.”

Conversely, Head of RTÉ Radio 1 Peter Woods issued an apology on the Drivetime programme, saying: “I would like this to be said separately to everything else. For people who were undoubtedly offended or hurt, and hurt in particular by the programme, I do apologise, and I am sorry about that.”

RTÉ has been invited to appear before the Oireachtas Media and Culture Committee on Wednesday, June 22, to discuss the controversy. Speaking to The Journal, committee member Senator Malcolm Byrne commented: “I think it important that Dublin Pride and RTÉ would engage and talk to each other. The way to achieve change is through understanding and dialogue.”

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