The smearing of Roderic O’Gorman

The defamatory smears against Roderic O’Gorman are the latest example of people thinking it is okay to attack a person’s good name for no valid reason and with no accountability.

The new Minister for Children was accused of endangering the rights of children because he was photographed at a Dublin Pride march beside gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.

The absurd guilt-by-association smear, now so popular with online mobs, was to imply that O’Gorman, therefore, endorsed a letter that Tatchell wrote in the Guardian more than twenty years ago.

This time the usual online abuse escalated into a protest outside Leinster House calling for the new Minister’s resignation.

Organisers the Irish Freedom Party outrageously described the protest as a ‘Hands off our Kids’ rally while calling for O’Gorman to be sacked.

The Irish Freedom Party is opposed to abortion and secular education, and it wants Ireland to leave the European Union. It says that Ireland cannot house the world and opposes what it calls mass immigration.

While promoting Saturday’s protest, party president Hermann Kelly told Castlebar Radio that two men may have some genital activity but they can not have what is properly termed sex.

Speaking at the protest, Kelly called the Irish media prostitutes, called Irish politicians morons, bastards, perverts, and scum of the earth who hate our country, and shouted that various people who he disagreed with could go fuck themselves.

Thankfully, most Irish people reject this demagoguery and these narrow ideas of Irishness. In the last European election, Kelly got 0.7% of the vote and party chairperson Delores Cahill got 1.5%. At the recent Dáil election, Kelly got 0.3%.

Saturday’s protest led to a peaceful counter-protest that played Billy Bragg’s version of Woody Guthrie’s song “All You Fascists,” while holding a large banner with lyrics from the song.

Justin Barrett who was speaking from the stage shouted into the microphone: “I see that there are people actually here on behalf of the paedophiles,” as members of the main protest attacked the counter-protesters.

There is no place in Irish democracy for this incitement or this violence. These thugs are the mirror image of the Antifa thugs who assaulted people on the streets of Dublin a few years ago.

Whatever our political beliefs, we should challenge ideas and not defame or assault people. We must stand together against the recent trend towards authoritarian silencing and personal smears.

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