The decision to call RTÉ before an Oireachtas committee over its dispute with Dublin Pride is a “direct line to totalitarianism”, according to psychologist Stella O’Malley.
Yesterday, RTÉ defended its Liveline lunchtime show over a series of discussions on trans and identity issues this week.
It said it was ‘disappointed’ with Pride’s decision to end its partnership with the State broadcaster over the debates – but insisted public discussion is ‘central to RTÉ’s prescribed purpose’.
That came after Dublin Pride labelled the debates “unacceptable, triggering and extremely harmful anti-trans discussions”.
The Oireachtas Media Committee has now called RTÉ before it to explain what happened.
On Newstalk Breakfast, psychologist Stella O’Malley said she is very worried about the committee’s decision.
“I am very concerned that the State - the Government - thinks it’s appropriate for them to comment and perhaps censure the State broadcaster,” she said.
“Liveline is inherently there for the public to raise concerns. That's what it has done for very many years and it does it very well.
“When a few people from the public have raised concerns; that the State would step in to effectively suggest they have power to shut this conversation down is a direct line to totalitarianism.
“I'm very concerned about it.”
Also on the show, Labour Senator Annie Hoey labelled the comments a “wild description of a joint Oireachtas committee”.
Senator Hoey, who is a member of the committee, said RTÉ is taxpayer funded and the Oireachtas has “every right to call them in to explain what happened”.
“What we are hoping to do is understand, in RTÉ’s own words, how they find themselves in the position of having their partnership terminated with Dublin Pride,” she said.
“I personally would be interested in getting an update on RTÉ’s vision and strategy for diversity and inclusion as a national broadcaster. The partnership with Dublin Pride was a key part of that, so I would be interested in knowing what they're going to do going forward.”
Ms O’Malley said she is “perplexed” to see Dublin Pride handed “so much power” that, when they decide to censure RTÉ, the State broadcaster gets called before the Oireachtas.
“Frankly, it feels to me like a throwback to the 80s or the 70s when you heard about Gay Byrne and the bishop and the nighties,” she said.
“When we used to see Gay Byrne and the Late Late Show brought in to discuss whether what he was saying was appropriate or too controversial.
“Women speaking about women’s rights shouldn’t be a controversial issue. Open dialogue and civilised discussion is the only way forward when two conflicting groups don’t agree. That is exactly the place where Liveline is at its best. Two conflicting groupsm, they trash it out and discuss it and they were very civilised and very thoughtful.
“Why the Oireachtas think they have the right to insert themselves in a public debate that was very well handled, feels to me way, way over their power.”
Senator Hoey said the programme misgendered some of the people who called in and suggested: “If we were to replace the words ‘gender and identity’ with ‘colour and race,’ you and I would not even be having this conversation because it simply would not have crossed the line
Ms O’Malley labelled that, “an outrageous thing to say.”
“It is not the same thing,” she said. “There is no medicalisation. There is nobody suggesting that A equals B.”
“Trans women are trans women. It is a very noble and acceptable position to be. I am very grateful that trans women have all the rights that every human in Ireland has – that is a great thing.
“However, they are medically different to biological women. Trans women have trans women’s needs and women have other needs – and we need to just be able to discuss that. Just have open dialogue and discuss.”
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