It is 30 years since I came out. I was 18. It was 1984 and Ireland was a very different country. Being gay meant I was a criminal. A year earlier, 31-year-old Declan Flynn had been savagely beaten to death by a gang of young men in Dublin’s Fairview Park. The gang who killed him walked free from court on suspended manslaughter charges in March 1983. The case provoked fury amongst an emerging LGBT activist community and resulted in the first large-scale public demonstration against anti-gay violence, when up to 1,000 people marched from Liberty Hall to Fairview Park. The... [Read more]

We don’t often debate the issue of freedom of expression in Ireland. Which is odd really given the number of taboos that have prevailed in this country over the years. At one time Irish writers and artists found themselves forced into exile because what they had to say about the human condition caused grave offence to the professed moral norms of our society. We were a country where sex and sexuality were deeply taboo subjects, where even tampons were banned because a Catholic Archbishop pronounced they would ‘give rise to occasions of sin’ in young girls. Things... [Read more]

In recent weeks there has obviously been a huge amount of debate and discussion as to the prevelance and even the meaning of homophobia. During a debate on RTE 1’s Saturday Night Show, I gave a definition used by the EU parliament when it adopted a resolution on homophobia in 2006. The full resolution is copied below, but the section which clearly defines ‘homophobia’ is as follows: “homophobia can be defined as an irrational fear of and aversion to homosexuality and to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people based on prejudice and... [Read more]

For only the second time in my life I am about to undertake a sponsored challenge. The last being a twelve hour sponsored basketball marathon when I was in my first year of secondary school back in 1978…yes I am so old that I last did a sponsored challenge sometime between the end of the steam age and the beginning of the computer age. If you are considering sponsoring me but are worried about receiving further requests from me in the future, you might want to take comfort from the fact that on that past record, I am unlikely to be seeking sponsorship again... [Read more]

Yesterday I posted a letter to my 25-year-old self, I wrote recently for a feature in the Irish Independent. In that post I mentioned that a few years ago I had been asked to contribute a similar letter, on that occasion to my 16-year-old self, to a book published to raise funds to the Irish Youth Foundation. The book was called ‘With Love, from me…to me: A Letter to my Sixteen-Year-Old Self.’ I have been asked to post that earlier letter on this blog. Which caused a bit of a dilemma as I couldn’t find it. But it turned up, or rather the fabulous... [Read more]