Politician defends advert on ‘salacious’ gay dating website

A FIANNA Fáil councillor who posted his picture and an advert on a gay website looking for dates says he’s done nothing illegal or immoral and won’t be stepping down.

Malcolm Byrne, 31, admitted yesterday that he did advertise for dates in the gaydar.co.uk website.

But he said those who leaked details of his advert to a local newspaper in the hope it might spur him to resign from Gorey Town Council in county Wexford have wasted their breath.

“It remains difficult to be a young gay man in Ireland today. It’s difficult to meet people. I did sign up to a gay dating website. There are plenty of dating websites in personals columns in our newspapers to Aertel to a range of websites. They all have personals websites.

“This happens to be a website for gay men. There is nothing in my profile which was in any way salacious. It was a private profile. I am a single, gay man who would love to meet another single gay man with whom I could spend time.

“Coming out is not an easy thing to do. My parents know and close friends do. I was forced into a situation where I was ringing around people last night, trying to tell them before they learnt about it in the paper today.

“It being splashed across a newspaper makes it even tougher. But I have no intention of walking away from politics. If that was the plan behind this, the only message I can give people is that I’m going to stay in there and stay fighting.

“If the electorate in north Wexford decide they are going to kick me out, that is their matter. But I’m not going to be forced out by someone who believes that a person’s private life deserves to be splashed across the paper.

“I’ve done nothing illegal or immoral. I just happen to be a public representative who is also gay,” he said in an exclusive interview with Ellen Lynch, head of news on South East Radio’s Straight Talk Programme yesterday morning.

After the programme yesterday, Ms Lynch said the station received a phenomenal amount of texts and phone calls supporting the popular councillor. “We’ve been inundated with calls and the overwhelming majority of those messages are in support of Malcolm.”

Echo Group Editor Tom Mooney said the paper published the story with good reason. “The Echo was not out to ‘out’ a gay politician. The nature of some of the information on the website was salacious. Some of the information given by Malcolm, I thought, was unfitting of a public representative.

“The private lives of public representatives are their own business, until they are party to the publication of private information about themselves. Malcolm chose to put voluntarily some inappropriate information on an international website that eventually was leaked to journalists.

“When contacted by the paper, he removed that inappropriate detail. The issue is not about outing him, but questioning the judgement of a public representative who entertained aspirations of representing the public in the Dáil.”

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