Duleek based Senator, Sharon Keoghan, is facing calls to resign her position after blundering into the Zapponegate row with a controversial tweet on Twitter.
She tweeted “The most worrying issue here is the agenda of governments worldwide to catapult #LGBTQIA personnel into high level positions. One’s gender or sexuality shouldn’t be used for a seat at any table. This is not equality, this is an organised takeover at every level in our society”.
The tweet has attracted a lot of criticisms, especially from the LGBTQIA+ community, and some praise from far-right leaning individuals. Many warned others to be careful of the councillors they elect in the future, as it is those councillors that helped Keogan win a seat at Seanad level.
TV star, Drag Queen, Panti Bliss-Cabera tweeted in disbelief: “this is a real person with a real Seanad seat. Which is really quite something”.
Social Democrats LGBTQIA spokesperson and councillor for Kildare/Newbridge Municipal District, Chris Pender, quote tweeted Keogan and said “People like this are the reason people need to be careful in how they vote in Local Elections. Its all well and good voting for people that do great work, but local councillors (all 949) new TDs and outgoing Senators are the ones that vote these people in”.
Ógra Fianna Fáil President and Meath man, Bryan Mallon told Meath Live: “Senator Sharon Keogan’s assertion regarding members of the LGBTQIA+ community is both wrong and unacceptable, and her views on this matter do not reflect those of the people of Meath East.
“Regarding Zapponegate, she added 2 + 2 together and got 5, ridiculously using it as an opportunity to dismiss the issues that members of the LGBTQIA+ community suffer daily, not least fair representation in government.
“All moves towards ensuring fair LGBTQIA+ representation in high level positions should be continued and welcomed. Ireland has made great strides when it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues over recent years, but despite this, some of our elected representatives are very clearly still stuck in the past.”
Meath Live also got in contact with LGBTQIA+ members from People Before Profit, who sent us this statement: “People Before Profit condemns Senator Keogan’s comments, which completely avoid the issues of cronyism surrounding the current scandal and instead push homophobic and transphobic talking points.
“The idea that there is an “agenda to catapult LGBTQIA personnel into high level positions” is a conspiratorial idea being imported once again to Ireland fr right wing American and British Conservatives. We oppose the manner in which this position appears to have been created specifically for Katherine Zappone after intense lobbying on her part. Her gender or sexuality has nothing to do with the issue. We call on Senator Keogan to apologise for this extremely irresponsible comment that completely misses the point of this controversy to push a highly offensive and disproven idea”.
LINC in Cork, an organisation that advocates for Lesbian and Bisexual women in Ireland, told us, “Tell that to the LGBTI+ people in Afghanistan! It is disturbing that at a time when LGBTI+ rights are being rowed back on worldwide with many people living in fear for their lives, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender that a member of the Irish Seanad should make such an irresponsible statement”.
One Seanad source suggested, ‘Perhaps there is a reason that the Senator is not too bothered by the nepotism and cronyism of the Fine Gael party appointing their personal friend, Katherine Zappone to a position in the UN. During the 2019 local elections, Keogan ran for two constituencies, Laytown/Bettystown and Ashbourne, and won both seats.
‘She gave one to a close friend Amanda Smith and then when Sharon was elected as a Senator she co-opted her sister, Geraldine Keogan to her council seat. Jobs for friends and family, is this not similar to nepotism?’
We Meath Live tried to get a statement from Keogan herself on this controversy, however, she did not pick up when we rang her. She previously told us not to contact her again, after she publishedphotos of herself allegedly breaking lockdown restrictions when she went to help and visit a friend in Offaly. She maintains that she was entitled to travel as she is a Senator and represents all.
We would welcome any comments the Senator wishes to make.
The tweet is here; https://twitter.com/SenatorKeogan/status/1434954441875144712?s=20