Trans Equality Together was officially launched this week with an aim to create an Ireland where trans and non-binary people are equal, safe, and valued. Trans people in Ireland are a tiny minority of the population yet they have been marginalised, denied access to healthcare, and their voices are rarely heard in national discourse.
On 9, 10 and 13 June 2022, RTÉ Radio 1’s Liveline show discussed matters of gender identity. Trans Equality Together, and our members, share a common concern about these episodes, and we support Dublin Pride’s decision to terminate its media partnership with RTÉ and its consultation with Trans Equality Together about this decision.
These episodes of Liveline provided airtime to what we believe was a coordinated group of organisations who actively deny the basic humanity and rights of trans and non-binary people. The repeated use of the same speaking points and language is evidence of such coordination in our assessment.
RTÉ’s use of the logo of one such anti-trans organisation in its promotion of the programme was, in our view, a serious error.
By positioning whether trans people have a right to exist, are entitled to basic human dignity, have a right to live free of discrimination and harassment as matters of ‘debate’, Liveline failed to recognise the vulnerability of the trans community, their needs, and contributed instead by stigmatising, misrepresenting, and further harming trans people.
The problem of violence and discrimination against trans people — which was well acknowledged by presenter Joe Duffy during the programme — is important context for any discussion on the rights of trans people.
However, we believe on this occasion these dangers and risks were not adequately taken into account in the framing of the discussions.
In defending freedom of expression, we must also consider that giving airtime to groups that would deny the basic rights of a minority community has the effect of intimidating and silencing those minorities, while also contributing to their stigmatisation and isolation in society.
We note and commend RTÉ on its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which states RTÉ has a “responsibility to represent and reflect the experiences and perspectives of all the people of Ireland”, also stating that “both on and off air, we mirror the nation’s diversity (by gender, Irish/non-Irish ethnicity, different ability and sexual orientation)”.
We are calling on RTÉ to make a renewed commitment to implement its diversity and inclusion strategy, deliver on its commitment to provide diversity and inclusion training to all RTÉ employees; and ensure that, in future, all programmes will strike the correct balance between editorial freedom and the right to free speech, while protecting and giving a voice to vulnerable minorities like the trans and non-binary community in Ireland.
TENI, Belong To, LGBT Ireland, Irish Council of Civil Liberties, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Dublin Pride, Intersex Ireland, Outhouse, Bi+ Ireland, ShoutOut, The Open Doors Initiative, National LGBT Federation (NXF), FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), Trans Greystones, Irish Network Against Racism, Amnesty International Ireland
Freedom of speech is understandably a popular topic of concern among journalists, who regularly warn us across multiple media platforms of the ways in which it is under threat (though perhaps if the situation were as dire as we are so often led to believe, this wouldn’t be quite such a prominent theme).
It is perhaps understandable too, that in their rush to defend a value as important as freedom of speech, authors like Mick Clifford might occasionally (or often mistake robust criticism for the stifling of free speech, or that they might forget that the freedom to express oneself does not impose an obligation on others to listen.
Nevertheless, I would like to draw your readers’ attention to the fact that freedom of speech is not the only important freedom we enjoy — we also enjoy freedom of association, for example, which includes the right of an organisation like Dublin Pride not to associate with RTÉ.
Freedom of speech does not trump freedom of association, and it would be clearly wrong to compel or pressure an organisation representing LGBT people to associate themselves with another organisation that they believe does a disservice to that same group, regardless of whether you agree with (or even understand) their reasons for doing so.
Ironically, characterising Dublin Pride’s response as a threat to freedom of expression risks stifling freedom of association and, also undermines those who would seek to defend freedom of speech, by demanding not just the right to speak, but the right to be exempt from any consequences for what one might say.
The idea that our President can delve in and out of politics as he pleases is nonsense.
Populist headline-grabbing is not an acceptable pursuit for the holder of our country’s highest office to engage in. This is not a grey area, it is constitutional law.
The sight of the opposition jumping on board is actually quite sickening; they are well aware of the separation of powers and the reasons for it.
Every president has had to deal with crisis, many of them far more extreme than the current housing shortage. The office of the President must be beyond reproach, becoming a little bit political is like becoming a little bit pregnant, you are or you are not. Our president needs to remember he is not.
The Government is actually saying to our President, “when we want your opinion, we’ll give it to you”?
One does not need to be a constitutional law expert to understand that President Higgins has several times during his presidency violated his solemn oath to uphold the Irish Constitution in regards as to how federal money is spent.
All one needs to be capable of is the ability to read Bunreacht na hEireann — The Constitution of Ireland.
Vincent J Lavery
On June 14, I travelled from Kerry Airport to Faro. Shortly before we departed, a Ryanair flight departed for Dublin. Both flights seemed full, which would have had approximately 350 passengers in the airport at the same time.
I was amazed at the speed with which we were processed through security with the new scanning technology which the airport has installed. The whole experience was seamless and stress free as liquids and laptops can stay in one’s bag. I understand that Shannon Airport also has this technology.
In the light of all the recent difficulty with queueing at Dublin Airport it is beyond comprehension that the DAA has not installed this technology at Dublin Airport.
No doubt these scanners are not cheap but for an airport authority, who are building a third runway at massive expense, and who have pulled 87% of all aviation passengers in the country to Dublin airport, this obvious investment in facilitating the customer should be a priority. This would only be a fraction of the overall expenditure of the DAA, with huge benefits to the airline passenger.
Sometimes, in empire building, the customer gets forgotten.
David O Sullivan
Secretary of state Liz Truss’s statement that the Brexit protocol legislation is “in line with” international law tells the truth that she does not believe that the legislation “complies” with international law, and that she knows this full well.
It wasn’t for nothing that Native Americans said of the Brits “long knives speak with forked tongue”, and remains an accurate description today.
Far from getting Brexit done, Boris’s latest distraction in his game of deception is to raise impossible issues in order to long finger any possible agreement on Brexit, and so extract the maximum concessions from the EU.
When push comes to shove on any single issue he will likely just shrug his shoulders and dream up another issue, such is the moral black hole he stands on.
The EU must determine to immediately thwart this rogue behaviour by selecting a number of products essential to the UK to extract from the current trade cooperation agreement —and impose crippling duty on — such as financial services, appliances and scotch whiskey. Only then will Boris be brought on a leash to heel.
Kevin T Finn