The Old Oak owner defends his bar

“I DON’T care what people do as long as they don’t do it in the streets and scare the horses.”

That was the view of the famous English stage actress Mrs Patrick Cambell on homosexual canoodling when she learned that an elderly actor had the hots for a young male trouper.

Chances are she would have been bemused by plans to hold a “maul-fest” or “kiss-in” at the Old Oak pub in Cork on Saturday.

That’s the latest salvo being fired in a battle by gay rights activists to highlight what they see as discrimination against a gay male couple ejected from the bar.

One of the pair, a 21-year-old student at Cork Institute of Technology, said he was asked to leave the Old Oak on Oliver Plunkett Street by a security person after being warned twice for kissing another man.

The student was in the Old Oak at 1.30am on Saturday enjoying a live music session.

He said he and the other man had a brief kiss, away from the dance floor, when he was told by a member of security that they would be asked to leave if it happened again.

The two men then kissed on the dance floor and the student said he was immediately approached by the security person and told to leave.

He said: “I was absolutely shocked that it happened. I still cannot quite believe it. This is the 21st century — these things should not happen in modern Ireland. Gay people are not second-class citizens.”

Bar owner Ger Kiely couldn’t agree more and he is determined to find out exactly what happened by meeting the two young men face-to-face and interviewing the doorman involved.

“If we are wrong, we are wrong and I have no problem admitting that, if that is the case, but I must, to be fair to everyone, find out exactly what happened. I want to meet with the two lads myself. I want to listen to them and hear what they have to say. That is the decent thing to do.”

In the meantime, he is anxious to defend his and his pub’s reputation as a venue open to all.

“In the 20 years we have been operating here, we have never discriminated against anyone — customers or staff — on the grounds of their sexual orientation. “We have never been anti-gay or anything like it. In fact, when we started out we had a number of gay staff members and that was at a time when it was far more difficult for gay people in Ireland.

“We have a lot of gay customers. We hold regular nights for gay customers and, as a live music venue, we have gay bands playing and we advertise and promote them. We also have regular ‘L Nights’ for lesbian customers. They have stopped for the summer but we will be looking at doing them again in the autumn.

“It is totally and utterly untrue to say we are in any way homophobic.

“We recently did a charity night for the gay community and we didn’t charge a cent, even though it was a Saturday night, which is normally one of our busiest.”

Mr Kiely said he found some of the comments posted on Facebook and other social network sites to be deeply upsetting.

“Some of the stuff on the internet is absolutely beyond disgraceful and totally untrue.”

The pub’s own Facebook page, where many had left comments voicing their anger at last Saturday’s events, was deleted on Monday night.

Speaking on behalf of the college student, CIT Students’ Union president Chris Scanlon said he believed the pair had been wronged.

“We are seeking vindication for the student who has chosen not to talk to the media. Once the owner of the Old Oak issues a public apology, the whole thing will be cleared up.”

However, he stressed that the students’ union had no involvement in any plans for a protest at the Old Oak or had anything to do with proposals for a “maul-fest” due to be held there next Saturday.

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