Fathers4Justice protester gatecrashes Rose of Tralee on air
Matt O’Connor thrown to ground by four security men before being ushered away
The perils of live television were all too apparent on Monday night when the RTÉ broadcast of the Rose of Tralee was interrupted by a man who invaded the stage.
The protester was Matt O’Connor, the 49-year-old founder of Fathers4Justice who lives in Clapham, south London, but whose family come from Co Kerry.
O’Connor held up a picture of his son and shouted “fathers for justice” and then continued: “To all the fathers in this country who are denied access to their children, please join me and the broken families of Ireland. ”
He was thrown to the ground by four security men and then ushered away.
In a statement issued immediately after the incident, Fathers4Justice described their protest as the “new Rising” and stated that 100,000 Irish children are “partitioned” from their fathers and denied their human rights.
The statement added: “The Rose of Tralee has lots of beauty, but there is nothing beautiful about family law. We want equal rights for fathers in Ireland.
“It is a human right of children to see their fathers. This is a public health warning. Your families are at risk from the cancer of family breakdown.”
Mr O’Connor was taken away by gardaí.
A Rose of Tralee spokesman confirmed that Mr O’Connor bought a ticket for the event and then moved seats during a break to get closer to the stage.
The spokesman said: “He was dealt with immediately. We’re regarding this as a minor incident. In light of what happened, we will put in more security tonight.”
Prior to the incident, the first night of the live Rose of Tralee final was going to plan.
The live feed was cut just as host Dáithi Ó Sé was interviewing the Cavan Rose, Lisa Reilly.
When the coverage resumed Ó Sé remarked: “Now before we were so rudely interrupted”... and carried on by reminding the audience that Ms Reilly’s boyfriend is a cadet in the Army.