Graham Norton says RTÉ ‘moronic’ over Panti interview

Presenter says opponents of gay marriage do not reflect the opinions of most Irish

Graham Norton has described RTÉ's payment of damages to journalists and members of the Iona Institute over a claim they were homophobic as "absolutely moronic".

In an interview published in Hot Press, the television presenter discusses the controversy over comments made by Rory O’Neill on the Saturday Night Show last month. He says opponents of gay marriage do not reflect the opinions of most Irish people.

Norton describes the recent speech made by O'Neill's alter ego Panti Bliss to the Abbey Theatre, in which he detailed just some of the homophobic encounters he had experienced as a gay man in Ireland, as "perfectly pitched" and he says the threatened libel actions in the wake of his comments on RTÉ were "weird".

'Very sane speech'
"It's a very sane speech, which exists outside of the current argument," Norton says "You don't need to know about all the RTÉ toings and froings to understand it. Rory's a smart chap and it was perfectly pitched."

Norton describes Ireland now as unrecognisable from the place he grew up in during the 1980s and he suggests that a “tiny minority” who remain opposed to marriage equality “can yell all they want, but it’s over. It’s all done.”

In the interview he accepts that some of those who are opposed to gay marriage may not be homophobic.

“If you think gay marriage is the end of the world, that’s your opinion,” he says. “Tell everyone you can, have your websites, have your forums, have your members and people donating money.

"But don't be surprised when somebody like Miss Panti kicks back and says, 'You're not pro-marriage. If you were, you'd want as many people as possible to do it. You're not pro-anything. You're using semantics'."

He told Stuart Clark of Hot Press that Ireland largely “enjoys being liberal” now. “When I go back now – and I pretty much spend my entire summer near to where I grew up in Bandon – it’s such a different place. It takes pride in accepting all types of people. There’s more than 40 shades of green.”

Excerpts courtesy of Hot Press

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast