Members of the Oireachtas Media and Culture Committee have defended their invitation to RTÉ to appear before them after Dublin Pride severed ties over what it described as “anti-trans” discussions on Joe Duffy’s Liveline programme.
Labour Senator Annie Hoey told Newstalk Breakfast that the Committee was “doing our due diligence” and that they had “every right” to call in RTÉ to explain what had happened to their relationship with Dublin Pride.
Later on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne called on RTÉ and Dublin Pride to “sit down and discuss their differences”, preferably in advance of the Committee meeting.
On Newstalk, psychotherapist Stella O’Malley said she wanted to know why Dublin Pride “have so much power” and thought they should also be called into the Oireachtas Committee to explain exactly what parts of the Liveline programmes upset them. She said it was like the 1980s when Gay Byrne was “called in by Bishops on the nighty controversy”.
Women should have the right to speak up on an issue that concerns them - male violence against women. Trans women were medically different from biological women, she said. People needed to be able to discuss the issue.
Ms O'Malley said that representatives for The Countess should also be called into the Committee. She maintained that the debate on Liveline had been "civilised". However, Senator Hoey said that contributors had been misgendered which was very distressing.
Mr Byrne said that the Oireachtas Committee was the place where the issue could be well debated. Liveline filled an important role in Irish society and Joe Duffy had shone a light in dark corners, he said.
Language was important especially how it was used so as not to cause offence. During the Liveline debates some language had been seen as “deliberately offensive to trans people.” Raising the issue of trans rights was important. “It is important that the language we use not be offensive.” He said it was not about mistakenly using the wrong pronoun, it was about using language, so people were not offended.
Ireland was fortunate to have a balanced media, he said. He would hate to see a situation arise where we ended up in the same cultural wars as in the UK and the US. There needed to be a debate on hate crimes. There had been a number of homophobic attacks in recent times.
The space for any debate needed to be respectful, he urged.