Michael Healy-Rae speaks to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline to defend his use of the phrase ‘airy fairy’ on Dáil Row with Leo Varadkar


Outspoken TD Michael Healy-Rae joined Joe Duffy RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline today to discuss his commentary on Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, told him to “go with the airy fairies”; Healy-Rae said it referred to something that was “nonsensical.”

Below is the transcript of their conversation on RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon:

duffy: “Will you apologize?”

Healy-Rae: “I can’t apologize because I have nothing to apologize for. Away with the fairies or away with the airy fairies is a term I use a lot.”

duffy: “We checked the Dáil record. You’ve used it four times as far as we can find, and you haven’t used it as a noun. You used it as an adjective, but you didn’t use it in relation to people.”

“Now you use it as a noun. Who are the airy fairies?”

Healy-Rae: “Every time I’ve used it, I’ve used it to describe something I would consider nonsensical.”

duffy: “When you used the phrase: ‘Away with the airy fairies’, you said this to the Tánaiste. Are you aware that Tánaiste is gay?”

Healy-Rae: “Joe, can I start by trying to say that after a few attempts I’m on speaking terms now and the only guy speaking now is yourself because you won’t give me a chance to speak. Can I answer the questions or not?”

duffy: “Keep talking, I’ll get the little fiddle out of here, keep talking, nobody’s stopping Michael Healy-Rae talking, would yes, now come on Michael.”

Healy-Rae: “I would never offend or upset anyone, and the Tánaiste knows it. What happened yesterday was that the Tánaiste was in an awkward position as I brought up the fact that the state was organizing a review of our energy security; Richard Bruton’s report said that we should have a non-commercial power plant in Ireland.

“The Tánaiste has said again and again that he is against; A number of Fine Gael TDs and Council members say they support it but are at odds with their own leader. When this was highlighted in the Dáil yesterday, instead of answering the questions I put to him, he took it personally, which it never would. I would never offend anyone.”

duffy: “Do you even want to take it back as an awkward use of the term?”

Healy-Rae: “It is not an awkward use of the term; If I had used it for the first time it would be a different story, but I have used it continuously.”

duffy: “You used it as an adjective; You never used it in reference to people.”

Healy-Rae: “You can’t say that, Joe, you can’t.”

duffy: “I can because I can quote them to you; Should I quote you? They never referred to it as a group of people, never as a noun.”

Healy-Rae: “Can I explain to you how one-sided this whole argument has become? When the Tánaiste said that I might not have understood an answer he had given a few minutes earlier, if I wanted to be picky with the Tánaiste I could have stood up and looked at him and said, well, do you mean that fact? that I’m dyslexic?”

duffy: “Ahh no, ahh no, no, dyslexia, you used the word dyslexia, you mean to say that dyslexia is the same as homosexuality? Dyslexia is a disability, homosexuality is not a disability.”

Healy-Rae: “It’s extremely unfair when I start to say something and you cut it off and finish it for me, can I please say what I said, Joe?” You called me and asked me to come over.”

duffy: “And you said you would come when you no longer had to speak to listeners, so I have to take the listener’s place. Unfortunately, that is my job today.”

Healy-Rae: “I didn’t say that, Joe. Can I finish the point I’ve been trying to make?

“I think it’s very unfair for him; he knows in his heart and soul yesterday, as does everyone who was there knows, that I do not wish to take advantage of any person’s personal affairs in any shape or form. It has nothing to do with me or anyone else. work is work.”

duffy: “May I ask you Michael, I assume you are a supporter of gay rights given the world we live in?”

Healy-Rae: “I’m absolutely 100 percent, and I just told you I deal with issues involving people of all different sexualities with an awful regularity.”

duffy: “Have you ever gone to a public rally in Kerry or elsewhere to support gay rights?”

Healy-Rae: “If anyone tries to twist a perfectly simple debate into something that it isn’t, that’s wrong and unfair and untrue and trying to pretend I’m something I’m not.

“I have a lot of friends who are gay. I have absolutely no interest in a person’s private affairs, it’s none of my business. No one should ever be offended or offended in any way.”

duffy: “Are you sure you didn’t mean it?”

Healy-Rae: “And the funny thing is, Joe, you know I didn’t do it.”

duffy: “I don’t know your opinion. I do not know you. I do not know you. i never met you What do you mean, you know what I know? Do you know what’s going on in my stupid head right now? You say.”

Healy-Rae: “Well, I know you don’t like to let anyone else have their say because you interrupt everything I get out.”

duffy: “Well you’ve spoken up and you can actually have more because like I said you asked that no callers be allowed to speak to you so I have to do it.”

duffy: “Agree that Leo Varadkar, then TD in 2015, came out publicly as gay, one of the first TDs ever with the potential to ruin his career, believe that was one of the bravest things of an Irish politician ? ever done? Do you think it was brave?”

Healy-Rae: “It was entirely his own business. He has done something that no one has done before by a person in such a position and if he chooses to do that personally I would of course appreciate it if it helped people’s understanding of each person’s acceptance.

“Whatever people choose to do in their private lives is nobody’s business but their own and if they want to let other people know, like Leo Varadkar did, I would of course give him absolutely nothing but good luck and happiness.” whichever way he wishes to live.

“But if anyone takes what I said yesterday as an insult or an attempt to insult the Tánaiste, I tell you now, that was never my intention, it never would be my intention.” Michael Healy-Rae speaks to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline to defend his use of the phrase ‘airy fairy’ on Dáil Row with Leo Varadkar

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