Bishop defends comic Al Porter against ‘darkness’ visited upon him

‘May heads on plates be off the menu in 2018,’ says Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin

Al Porter: Resigned last November from Today FM where he had presented a lunchtime show. Photograph: Brian McEvoy

A Catholic bishop has called for “balance, proper proportion and fair play” so that comedian Al Porter “may feel free and welcome to make us laugh again”.

Bishop Eamonn Walsh, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin whose area of responsibility includes Tallaght, referred to Mr Porter as "our local comedian". He hoped 2018 would "be the year that we allow justice take its course and not usurp it through public condemnation, humiliation and sentence without trial. May heads on plates be off the menu in 2018."

He said “darkness” was visited on comedian “before justice to all could be processed”.

Last November Mr Porter, who will be 25 on Sunday, resigned from Today FM where he had presented a lunchtime show since February of last year, after four separate complaints from men alleging that he touched them inappropriately in incidents dating back to 2012. Further allegations followed.


Porter shocked

Mr Porter also stepped down from his lead role in the Olympia Theatre Christmas pantomime, and a planned repeat of the final episode of TV3's Blind Date on November 18th, which he hosted, was pulled. The station said it would be inappropriate to broadcast it.

On November 19th, Mr Porter said he was “completely taken aback by reports in the media and on the social networks . . . and by the scale and tone of the vitriol”.

He said that “while my conduct, which had been in keeping with my flamboyant and outrageous public persona may be regarded as offensive and unacceptable by many people, I at no time intended to upset anyone”.

Up until then “I had been unaware of these complaints or the impact of my conduct and I am truly sorry for any distress I may have caused in what I had regarded as light-hearted and good-natured circumstances.”

He added: “Although, on legal advice, I cannot comment on specific allegations at the present time, I nonetheless sincerely apologise to anyone I may have genuinely offended.”

Bishop Walsh made his comments about the comedian in a Christmas message to the Tallaght Echo newspaper.

“May the darkness that was visited on our local comedian, before justice to all could be processed; be replaced with balance, proper proportion and fair play so that he may feel free and welcome to make us laugh again. Love and peace to all this Christmas and New Year,” he said.

Murphy report

At Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 2009 the Bishop announced his resignation following publication of the Murphy report the previous month which investigated the cover-up of clerical child sexual abuse allegations in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese between 1975 and April 2004.

Bishop Walsh had been secretary to two former archbishops of Dublin – Kevin McNamara, who died in 1987; and Desmond Connell – before being ordained Auxiliary Bishop in 1990. In August 2010 it emerged that Bishop Walsh's resignation had not been accepted by the then pontiff, Benedict XVI.

In December 2015, at the funeral of former Dublin Auxiliary Bishop Dermot O’Mahony, Bishop Walsh claimed his late colleague had been “scapegoated” by the Murphy report.

It had found that Bishop O’Mahony’s handling of complaints and suspicions of clerical child sexual abuse was “particularly bad” and that he had been aware of complaints involving 13 priests,

Defending the memory of Bishop O’Mahony at the funeral, Bishop Walsh told mourners his late colleague had suffered in “a society that at the time ignored the spirit of equity”.

Bishop O’Mahony had been “a man of great integrity”, he said and compared his suffering of latter years to that of some of the saints, asking how much of it was due to the bishop’s belief he had been “wronged” and “unjustly treated”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times