Actor who smeared Ireland’s gay children’s minister issues grovelling apology after violent far-right rally
Irish actor John Connors has apologised for his role in whipping up a storm of anger towards Ireland’s gay children’s minister, after far-right activists took to the streets of Dublin.
The country’s new Green children’s minister Roderic O’Gorman has faced a smear campaign over his appointment, with opponents bizarrely accusing him of being “pro-paedophilia” for once being photographed in proximity of gay rights activist Peter Tatchell at a Pride event.
O’Gorman has clarified that he has no “ties” to Tatchell — whose views on the age of consent have been misrepresented by the smear campaign — but it has done little to quell the anger.
Activists rallied in Dublin on July 11 for a so-called “Hands Off Our Kids” protest, demanding the resignation of O’Gorman.
The protest saw a scuffle with anti-fascist counter-protesters, with authorities intervening to keep the police.
A Garda [police] spokesperson said: “Gardai intervened in one incident in which there were no injuries or arrests and remained at the scene to ensure public safety. All persons present later dispersed without further incident.”
Actor apologises for leading ‘deranged pursuit’ of minister
The actor John Connors, who played a leading role in smearing O’Gorman and promoting the rally, has since apologised for his role and disavowed the far-right groups involved.
He said on Sunday (July 19): “I would like to publicly apologise to the minister for children, disability and integration Roderic O’Gorman for remarks I made about him online and at a recent rally… they were so wrong and unfair on every level.
“I allowed myself to lead and be part of an online frenzy that cast hurtful and false assertions on his character and pursued him in the most unfair way. I am so sorry for any hurt I caused minister O’Gorman and I have sent him a letter offering him my sincere apologies.”
Connors, who said he has been dealing with personal mental health issues and family problems, added: “What is difficult for me to accept is that my own misguided anger led me to appear to feed an army of trolls and support groups whose views I find repugnant, whose politics are rotten and whose methods are ugly.
“In not dealing with my emotional problems I went into a dark hole and lost myself and now I find myself in a position where I seemed to have sided with the very people whose politics I most despise. I have been politically naive. I did not fully inform myself of their views and l am truly horrified that I have in any way have enabled them.
“I’ve battled bigotry my whole life and my deranged pursuit of minister O’Gorman played a huge part in the homophobic backlash he received by the very bigots I despise. I wholeheartedly reject any association with any organisation that disrespects the dignity or rights of any community.”
Responding to the actor on Twitter, O’Gorman wrote: “I very much appreciate the statement and email from @johnconnors1990 The matter between us is fully resolved as far as I’m concerned. Take care of yourself John.”
Roderic O’Gorman has had ‘a huge amount of support’ from colleagues.
Elsewhere, in an interview with TheJournal.ie, O’Gorman spoke about the flood of hatred he received.
He wrote: “I think a very significant amount of it was motivated by homophobia. Most people involved, which makes it all the more worrying, were careful in how they crafted their abuse.
“But I think that was the basis of it, that I’m somehow incapable of making decisions regarding children and young people.”
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He said he would be asking for more help to be put in place for lawmakers facing abuse, adding: “I got huge support from my own party, from colleagues in the Oireachtas [parliament], from councillors, it was amazing support.
“A very significant number of politicians from other parties reached out to me, privately or publicly. I was very grateful for that.”
O’Gorman added that he is expecting more abuse when he presses forward with plans to extend gender recognition to 16 and 17-year-olds in Ireland.
He said: “It’s come up in some of the social media dialogue, it’s been thrown against me over the past couple of weeks.
“This is a very sensitive area that only impacts a small part of the population… if that consent [of parents or guardians] is there I think we should be helping these kids as much as we can and we’ll just have to deal with what the far-right say.”