herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

'I went numb after Mullen's ignorant comment' - Long

Senator Ronan Mullen made ‘condescending’ comments during a debate on TV3’s The Pat Kenny Show
Senator Ronan Mullen made ‘condescending’ comments during a debate on TV3’s The Pat Kenny Show

A woman who was told by a pro-life senator she was deserving of love "regardless of what you've ever done" after speaking about having an abortion on live TV has said his comments showed "ignorance".

Independent senator Ronan Mullen made the comments to FM104 presenter Saoirse Long, who spoke on The Pat Kenny Show about travelling to the UK to have an abortion.

"I thought long and hard about the decision I made and I made the right decision for me, and I should have been looked after in my own country," Ms Long said on the show.

In response, the senator said: "You deserve love and respect regardless of what you've ever done."

Ms Long told the Herald that she "went numb" after Mr Mullen's response, which she thought was "condescending".

"It was pure ignorance. He'll never understand what I went through, he has never walked in my shoes and he never will," she added.

She opted to share her story as she is not one of the so-called hard cases that have been talked about throughout the debate but "one of the everyday girls doing what we have to do in another country when we should be able to do it in our own country".

Talking about her experience is not easy and for this reason she was taken aback by the senator's comments, she said.

When contacted to expand on his statement, Mr Mullen said: "No need for further comment than this: everybody deserves love and respect in this debate, regardless of what decisions they have taken and how they feel about each other's point of view."

He did not respond to Ms Long's direct criticisms.

Hostile

He did, however, question the way in which Pat Kenny handled the TV3 debate, which was the last head-to-head televised debate of the campaign, and deferred to the No campaign for further comment.

The debate saw Mr Mullen advocating for a No vote alongside the Iona Institute's Maria Steen.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and Amnesty Ireland's Colm O'Gorman advocated for a Yes vote.

A number of audience members also spoke about their own reasons for voting one way or another in today's referendum.

Save The 8th spokesman John McGuirk said there was a consensus among many of the groups on the No side that the host appeared "hostile" toward Ms Steen and that his performance was "appalling".

TV3 did not respond to a request for comment.

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