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Statement by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh on his withdrawal from The Countess RDS Gender Critical Conference

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

24 April 2024

I had been scheduled to speak at the RDS event organised by The Countess on a panel discussing prisons and the housing of males in the female estate, alongside Rhona Hotchkiss and Paddy O’Gorman, two very knowledgeable people on the issue and I was looking forward to it.  There were other professionals in their field such as Stella O’ Malley who are due to speak on other aspects.  Such events by their nature often include a wide variety of opinions, some of them not exactly complementary to each other.  This conference was no exception.  I decided to let the fact that the sole speaker on media censorship was from Gript.  It is a right-wing Catholic media, but not that much further to the right on many issues than The Irish Times, despite its liberal reputation.

However, the last-minute decision to invite far right activist Jana Lunden to speak on education was a bridge too far.  Lunden came to prominence during the protests over sexually inappropriate material being available in children’s libraries rather than adult libraries.  These books were eventually relocated to the adult section thanks to back room lobbying by others.  Lunden’s response was to gather a bunch of far-right males to storm libraries threatening staff.  They didn’t just object to sexually inappropriate material for kids but anything that gave a positive image of gay people.

It was said to me that the presence of far-right thugs Andy Heasman and Fergus Power at rallies with her was accidental, they just turned up, but there are lots of photos of them together.  There is even one rather bucolic photo of them all on a boat.  They are anti-migrant, racists, homophobes and anti-working class, dividing us on the base of race or nationality and blaming the failings of the Irish state on those who had nothing to do with the mess FF and FG have us in i.e. they blamed migrants and the working class.

The issue shows the limitation of the Gender Critical movement in Ireland, which has failed to mark off a distance with such people and has included figures that are clearly homophobic and anti-feminist.  There is a need for a GC movement that fights for women on all issues, including “older” issues such as abortion, divorce, contraception, sexuality and of course the modern invasion of women’s spaces, representation and sports.  The invite to Jana Lunden, who presumably will turn up with the usual far-right thugs was the last straw.  These people do not defend women, when the opportunity arises they will turn on women and lesbians in particular.

I will continue to advocate for prisons as a single sex space and write about it.  But I can no longer associate with those who think that the broad church of a GC movement which includes liberals and even some standard right wingers from Fianna Fáil is in fact an elastic band that can be stretched to breaking point and beyond.

Unfortunately, most reformist leftists such as PbP, Rise and Rosa have all jumped on the bandwagon attacking women’s spaces and demanding that males have access to them and participate in women’s sports and this leaves little room for the building of a more progressive GC movement.  However, I am not willing to tolerate Andy Heasman and his thugs.

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