Independent Senators differ on RTÉ payment to Iona Institute members

Norris criticises payment, while Mullen says it was welcome

Independent Senator David Norris has strongly criticised RTÉ’s payment of damages to members of the Iona Institute over a claim of homophobia.


Independent senator David Norris said it was disgraceful “that RTÉ had shown such a Gadarene rush’’ to pay damages to members of the Iona Institute over a claim of homophobia.

“I wonder what legal advice the State broadcaster was given, ’’ he added.

The payment, believed to be in the region of €85,000, followed an interview in the Saturday Night Show with performer Rory O’Neill, otherwise known as Panti Bliss.

Mr Norris told the Seanad that “as a taxpayer and television licence payer, I would like to know why my money is being given to these people’’.

He added that he knew they would not co-operate with the Standards in Public Office Commission, which was extraordinary.

“I know they are controlled by a company called Lolex Ltd which was founded in 2006,’’ he added.

“I would like to know how they achieved their status in society.’’

He added that they were self-appointed and were answerable to nobody.

“They have consistently misrepresented scientific papers and been rebuked by the authors of those papers,’’ he added.

Mr Norris, who was speaking on the Order of Business, called for a debate on homophobia “in a context where an attempt is being made to close down that debate’’.

Ronan Mullen (Ind) said he would welcome any debate about equality and what that meant.

“I also must say that RTÉ could have saved the public money if the requisite apology had been forthcoming,’’ he added.

“That is a serious matter.’’

Mr Mullen said that the payments by RTÉ “were a welcome development in the cause of promoting a civil debate where people stop bullying each other for having a different point of view’’.