Draft:John Waters (columnist)

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Not to be confused with legendary filmmaker John WatersWikipedia. That one is tasteless and offensive on purpose.

John Waters is a former newspaper columnist for the Irish Times and Irish Independent whose career started with Hot Press magazine.[1] In the early 1990s, he has a daughter Róisín, with Irish singer Sinéad O'Conner whom she had a large custody battle with. [2]

He is associated with the Iona Institute and Irexit.


He has referred to himself as a "neo-Luddite"[3] or later as a "luddite".[4]

He supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[5][6]

In 2014 he stopped writing for The Irish Times.[7][8]


In an interview, he has described people of faith as "funnier, sharper and smarter" than atheists.[9]

Criticism of Blogsphere[edit]

During a newspaper review on radio station, Newstalk 106, Waters declared blogs and bloggers to be "stupid".[10] He then repeated those claims[11] the following week, sparking controversy amongst Irish bloggers[12] who took exception to his views.


On 11 January 2014, Waters was mentioned by Irish drag queen Panti (Rory O'Neill) on RTÉ's The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor while discussing homophobia. O'Neill said that Waters, among other Irish journalists, was homophobic.[13][14]

Waters and the others mentioned threatened RTÉ and O'Neill with legal action.[15] RTÉ subsequently removed that section of the interview from their online archive.[16] On 25 January episode of The Saturday Night Show, O'Connor issued a public apology to those named on behalf of RTÉ for being mentioned in the interview held two weeks previously.[17] RTÉ paid monies to Waters and others mentioned.[18] Waters was exceptionally indignant about this, which is quote some feat, given his usual state of self-righteous indignation.

RTÉ received hundreds of complaints about the issue.[19] A rally against the payout and censorship drew 2,000 people,[20] and the appropriateness of the payout was later discussed by members of the Oireachtas.[21][22][23][24] The issue was also discussed in the European Parliament.[25] RTÉ's head of television defended the €85,000 payout and blamed the decision mostly on Ireland's Anti-Defamation Laws.[26][27]

Waters himself wrote about marriage equality:

This is really a kind of a satire on marriage that is being conducted by the gay lobby. It is not that they want to get married; it is that they want to destroy the institution of marriage because they are envious of it … You warp language, you manipulate words, you say 'Oh, there's an inequality.' 'There's no inequality,' I say to them. 'You know there's no inequality.' 'Yeah there is: we can't get married,' 'Oh yeah, you can get married. Of course, you're a man. You can get married, but you must marry a woman. That's what marriage is.

Dispute with Irish Times colleagues[edit]

In February 2014,[29] Waters' implicated fellow Irish Times journalist Patsy McGarry as the author of a handful of ad hominem Tweets, written anonymously. In the piece, Waters' alleged an institutional bias within The Irish Times against Catholic social teaching. Despite this, in March 2014, it was announced that John Waters had decided to stop contributing to The Irish Times.[7][8] Reports stated that he had been unhappy at The Irish Times since the controversy.[7][8]

Comments on clinical depression[edit]

In April 2014, Waters replied when asked if he had become depressed because of the reaction to his actions over RTÉ and Rory O'Neill: "There's no such thing. It's an invention. It's bullshit. It's a cop out."[30]

His mental illness denial was criticised by many, including guidance councillor Eamon Keane, journalist Suzanne Harrington (whose late husband suffered from depression), gay rights activist Panti, charity campaigner Majella O'Donnell as well as online commenters.[31][32][33][34]

His former partner Sinéad O'Connor expressed concern for Waters, saying that she thought he was suffering from depression and needed to admit it.[35]

Marriage Equality[edit]

In 2015, he became involved with First Families First in calling for a 'No' vote in the referendum for the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015.[36] Waters, who is totes not a homophobe, said that same-sex marriage was not a "gift" that could be given to the LGBT community without consequences for others.[37]

Blaming the LGBT folk[edit]

In 2017 the totally not-homophobic Mr. Waters claimed "I stopped being a journalist because of the LGBT campaign. They tried to present themselves as beautiful gentle people, but these people aren’t."[38] He also said "We had a group back in our country, back in the War of Independence, the Black and Tans, you guys [in Britian] sent them over here to us. I would prefer them to the people I met last year in the campaign. I would prefer them, bring them back. Bring back the Black and Tans."[38]

Not content to leave it there he also said "Now paedophile priests, there’s no such thing… that’s the single most interesting lie about all this. “90% of the abusers in Catholic church, they were not paedophiles, they were ephebophiles. An entirely different phenomenon. They were abusers of teenage boys which is closely aligned to homosexuality."[38]

Repeal the 8th Campaign[edit]

During the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution, to remove the constitutional ban on abortion, he campaigned on the No side.[39] During the campaign he appeared on Eamonn Dunphy's podcase The Stand for what was scheduled to be a 40 minute interview, but he stormed off after 13 minutes saying "You’re a bollocks, a fucking bollocks."[39]

High Court COVID-19 action[edit]

During the COVID-19 pandemic Waters brought a High Court challenge against the Irish government with Gemma O'Doherty, aimed at striking down the emergency coronavirus laws.[40] A judge ruled against their application for judicial review and ordered that they pay legal costs.[41] Waters wielded his copy of the constitution like it was a magical talisman, rather than a legal document

On 30 April 2021 the Court of Appeal ruled that Waters and O'Doherty must pay the legal costs of their failed appeal.[42]


  1. "Is Hot Press still cool?". Marketing Magazine (Ireland). Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  2. Sinead O'Connor - Biography
  3. "Waking up to what the millennium really means". 
  4. "Phone texts send wrong message". 
  5. Bush and Blair doing right thing Irish Times 24 March 2003.
  6. Impose democracy on Iraq Irish Times 24 March 2003.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Calnan, Denise (28 March 2014). "Columnist John Waters 'stops contributing' to the Irish Times". Irish Independent. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "John Waters has officially stopped writing for the Irish Times". TheJournal.ie. 28 March 2014. 
  9. Count Me Out "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 21 July 2011.  (MP3 audio file)
  10. John Waters on blogs "John Waters on blogs". 17 January 2008.  Twenty Major Blog. 10 January 2008.
  11. More on John Waters and blogs "More on John Waters and blogs". 19 January 2008.  Twenty Major Blog. 16 January 2008.
  12. No child of John Waters will ever marry a… blogger... The DOBlog 16 January 2008.
  13. "Gay marriage is a product of this bunker mentality". College Tribune. 9 August 2012. 
  14. "Panti's Back On". Broadsheet.ie. 16 January 2014. 
  15. Cahir O'Doherty (19 January 2014). "Columnist John Waters in a Panti twist over anti-gay claims". 
  16. Brian Byrne (16 January 2014). "RTÉ cuts part of show after legal complaint from Waters". Irish Independent. 
  17. Barry, Aoife. "RTÉ apologises for 'distress' caused by Saturday Night Show guest's comments" (in en). 
  18. "RTÉ paid out €85,000 in 'homophobe' row". Irish Independent. 2 February 2014. 
  19. "RTÉ receive 847 complaints about Panti". The Journal. 6 February 2014. 
  20. "Over 2000 attend protest over "silencing" of homophobia debate". RTÉ.ie. 6 February 2014. 
  21. Murphy, Catherine. "Column: Panti Bliss controversy raises major questions about RTE's role in public discourse" (in en). 
  22. Template:YouTube retrieved 30 January 2014
  23. The Journal retrieved 30 January 2014
  24. Clare Daly TD retrieved 31 January 2014
  25. [1] European Parliament retrieved 4 February 2014.
  26. "RTÉ blames Irish defamation laws over €85,000 payout". Press Gazette. 6 February 2014. 
  27. "Taoiseach dismisses call to make RTÉ answerable to the Dáil". The Irish Times. 5 February 2014. 
  28. Template:Site news
  29. Waters, John (23 April 2014). "So, who's illiberal here?". Village Magazine. 
  30. Horan, Niamh (13 April 2014). "'I've been put on trial over my beliefs'". Sunday Independent. 
  31. Sheehy, Clodagh; Blake Knox, Kirsty (14 April 2014). "Anger over John Waters' depression comments". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2020. 
  32. Harrington, Suzanne (21 April 2014). "My rage at John Waters' dated rhetoric and old-school ignorance". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 10 October 2020. 
  33. "Remarks about depression sparked huge online debate". Sunday Independent. 20 April 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2020. 
  34. Finn, Melanie (14 April 2014). "John is depressed but he won't admit it, claims O'Connor". Evening Herald. Retrieved 10 October 2020. 
  35. Sheridan, Kathy (1 May 2015). "Kathy Sheridan: First Families First take up fight for No side". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  36. Hennessy, Michelle. "John Waters: Same-sex marriage is not a free gift to give to the gay community". TheJournal.ie. 
  37. 38.0 38.1 38.2 Duffy, Nick. "Irish writer says he quit journalism ‘because of LGBT activists’". 
  38. 39.0 39.1 'You're a f***ing b****cks, Eamon' - John Waters storms off Dunphy's podcast, thejournal.ie
  39. State to oppose John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty challenge to Covid-19 laws The Irish Times 21 April 2020
  40. O’Doherty and Waters ordered to pay legal costs of case against State over Covid-19 laws Irish Times 4 June 2020
  41. Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters must pay legal costs of failed appeal, Court of Appeal rules., TheJournal.ie, 30 April 2021