While in Dublin to present Panti Bliss (Rory O’Neill) with the ‘Person of the Year Award’, Stephen Fry slammed the controversial decision by RTÉ to pay damages to five individuals after comments made by O’Neill on ‘The Saturday Night Show’ last January.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Fry said, “That RTÉ should make such a lickspittle spectacle of themselves strikes me as an absolute disgrace.”
Friday night’s Rehab People of the Year Awards was aired on the national broadcaster, and while Fry acknowledged that he may be “snapping the hand that feeds you” he insisted on mentioning that the payout “hadn’t gone unnoticed”.
Fry revealed that he jumped at the chance to present the honour to O’Neill, saying, “When I was asked to present this award, I would have swum over the Irish Sea (to do so).”
He also praised the drag performer and ‘accidental activist’ for the “sheer rhetorical brilliance” of the now famous Noble Call speech made earlier this year, which has since garnered over 600,000 views on YouTube.
“I thought it was one of the most moving and eloquent calls against oppression I have ever seen, the sheer rhetorical brilliance of the speech caught my attention.”
Upon accepting the award from Fry, O’Neill remained humble. “(This award) is not about me,” he said. “It’s about the movement gaining ground in the country, I just happen to shine attention on it. I’m not really that special.”
Watch Panti’s Noble Call speech at The Abbey Theatre below.
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