John Waters (columnist)
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John Waters Columnist

John Waters
Born (1955-05-28) 28 May 1955 (age 64)
OccupationColumnist, author
Years active1981-present
Known forWriting in The Irish Times, entering the Eurovision Song Contest
Rita Simons (2014-present)
ChildrenRóisín Waters

John Waters (born 28 May 1955) is an Irish columnist and author whose career began in 1981 with the Irish political-music magazine Hot Press.[1] He went on to write for the Sunday Tribune and later edited In Dublin magazine and Magill. Waters has written several books and, in 1998, he devised The Whoseday Book -- which contains quotes, writings and pictures of 365 Irish writers and musicians - that raised some EUR3 million for the Irish Hospice Foundation.[2]

He wrote a weekly Friday column for The Irish Times. He was briefly fired during a dispute with the then editor, Geraldine Kennedy, but was shortly thereafter reinstated.[3][4][5] In March 2014, Waters left The Irish Times,[6][7] and shortly after started writing columns for the Sunday Independent and Irish Independent. In 2018 he released a new book called Give Us Back the Bad Roads. Waters is a fortnightly contributor to the American journal First Things and is a Permanent Research Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame.[8]


Politics and advocacy

Waters has referred to himself as a "neo-Luddite"[9] or later as a "luddite".[10] At one stage he refused to use e-mail and stated his concern that society ignores the negative aspects of the Internet.

In his articles titled Impose democracy on Iraq and Bush and Blair doing right thing, Waters explained his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a position based on his belief that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the West due to its possession of weapons of mass destruction.[11][12]

He wrote an article titled Two sides to domestic violence, which criticised the lack of gender balance in Amnesty International's campaign against domestic violence in Ireland. Waters cited the National Crime Council report, conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute, which found approximate gender symmetry in most measures of domestic violence and he pointed out that despite these statistics, funding for women victims of domestic violence (EUR15 million) disproportionately outstrips funding for male victims.[13] Waters' article led to a response from the head of Amnesty International's Irish branch.[14]

Waters also devoted much of his column space in The Irish Times to discussing the role and importance of religion and faith in society. In an interview, he has described people of faith as "funnier, sharper and smarter" than atheists.[15] In a 2009 article titled "Another no to Lisbon might shock FF back to its senses" Waters voiced his opposition to gay marriage stating that it was "potentially destructive of the very fabric of Irish society".[16]

He was an active participant in the Catholic cultural movement Communion and Liberation.[17] He has given at least one talk to the Iona Institute.[18]

He was a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland until he resigned in January 2014,[19] during time that he was a litigant seeking damages from the broadcaster RTÉ.[20][21]

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.[22]

Non-fiction and drama

Waters has written a number of works of non-fiction as well as plays for radio and the stage. The title of his first non-fiction book, Jiving at the Crossroads, is a pun of Irish president Éamon de Valera's vision of a rural Ireland which is often misattributed as "comely maidens dancing at the crossroads". In the book, Waters comments on modern Ireland. Another non-fiction work, Lapsed Agnostic, describes his "journey from belief to un-belief and back again."

Independent Newspapers

On 13 July 2014, he was published in the Sunday Independent in what the paper described as his first column for them.[23] He has since written regular columns for that paper and its sister the Irish Independent.[24]


Eurovision Song Contest

Waters has entered the Eurovision Song Contest on a number of occasions.

"They Can't Stop the Spring", the song he co-wrote with Tommy Moran, was shortlisted for Ireland's entry to Eurovision Song Contest 2007.[25] On 16 February 2007, "They Can't Stop the Spring" was selected on RTÉ's The Late Late Show to represent Ireland in that year's final in Helsinki. After a telephone vote of viewers, "They Can't Stop The Spring" won the selection. The song finished last in the European competition final, receiving only 5 points.

In 2010, RTÉ announced that Waters had sought to represent Ireland again at Eurovision, with the song "Does Heaven Need Much More?", co-written with Tommy Moran.[26] In the Irish National Final on 5 March 2010, the song was performed by Leanne Moore, the winner of You're a Star 2008, and finished in fourth place.[27]

Electric Picnic 2010

Waters attended the Electric Picnic music festival in 2010 and wrote that he felt a sense of dissatisfaction with the event, concluding that there was a lack of meaning underpinning events at the festival.[28]Sunday Tribune journalist Una Mullally replied that if John Waters felt disconnected or out of place at the Electric Picnic, that it was because the country had changed, and continued "perhaps this is the first Irish generation who have purposely opted out of tormenting themselves by searching for some unattainable greater meaning and who have chosen instead just to live".[29]


In 2007, Waters took part as one of the guest amateur chefs, in the RTE The Restaurant, programme.[30] In 2008, he took part in a television programme which researched his family's past.[31] Parish records revealed that his great-granduncle, also called John Waters, died of starvation during the Great Famine.[31]

In 2011 he sat for the painter Nick Miller, the subject of a naked portrait for an Arts Lives RTÉ programme, called Naked.[32]

Over the years Waters has participated on a number of current affairs programmes on Irish television, including Questions and Answers(RTÉ), Vincent Browne Tonight(TV3) and The Late Late Show (RTÉ).


Criticism of Blogsphere

During a newspaper review on radio station, Newstalk 106, Waters declared blogs and bloggers to be "stupid".[33] He then repeated those claims[34] the following week, sparking controversy amongst Irish bloggers[35] who took exception to his views. In the same interview, Waters claimed that "sixty to seventy percent of the internet is pornography".[36]


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.[37][38]

Waters and the others mentioned threatened RTÉ and O'Neill with legal action.[39] RTÉ subsequently removed that section of the interview from their online archive.[40] 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.[41] RTÉ paid monies to Waters and others mentioned.[42]

RTÉ received hundreds of complaints about the issue.[43] A rally against the payout and censorship drew 2,000 people,[44] and the appropriateness of the payout was later discussed by members of the Oireachtas.[45][46][47][48] The issue was also discussed in the European Parliament.[49] RTÉ's head of television defended the EUR85,000 payout and blamed the decision mostly on Ireland's Anti-Defamation Laws.[50][51]

In February 2014[52] Waters' implicated fellow Irish Times journalist Patsy McGarry as the author of a handful of ad hominem Tweets, written anonymously by McGarry. In the piece, Waters' demonstrated 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.[6][7] Reports stated that he had been unhappy at The Irish Times since the controversy.[6][7]

Comments on depression

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."[53]

He was criticised by many, including Paul Kelly, founder of the suicide prevention charity Console, 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.[54][55][56][57]

His former partner Sinéad O'Connor expressed concern for John Waters, saying that she thought he was suffering from depression and needed to admit it.[58]

Thirty-fourth amendment to the Constitution of Ireland

In 2015 a referendum was held on the matter of same-sex marriage. Before the referendum the Constitution was assumed to contain an implicit prohibition on same-sex marriage.[59]

John Waters was involved with a group opposing the referendum called First Families First, along with Kathy Sinnott and Gerry Fahey.[60]

After the referendum passed, John Waters described the result as 'catastrophic' for Irish society.[61] He also said "Not just the gay, LGBT lobby, but virtually the entire journalistic fraternity turned on me and tried to basically peck me to death".[61]

In February 2017, John Waters spoke at a panel where he blamed LGBT activists for his decision to quit journalism.[62] He said "I stopped being a journalist because of the LGBT campaign. They tried to present themselves as beautiful gentle people, but these people aren't".[62] Waters compared the activists that attacked him to the Black and Tans, saying "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".[62] "The ugliest phenomenon I have ever seen in 30 years a journalist," Waters added.[63]

He also claimed that the clerical child abuse cases were "closely aligned to homosexuality".[62] He claimed "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".[62]

Personal life

Waters was born in Castlerea, County Roscommon. He had a daughter in 1996 named Róisín with singer Sinéad O'Connor.[64] He suffered from an alcohol addiction until 1989 when he gave it up completely, a decision which he says has transformed his life.[65] He married Rita Simons in December 2014.[66]

Jailing over parking fine

In September 2013 he was jailed for around two hours in Wheatfield Prison over non-payment of a parking fine.[67] The case dated back to 2011 and Waters claimed that he returned to his car one minute over a 15-minute grace period.[67] He refused to pay the fine as a matter of principle.[68]

Defamation action against John Waters

In November 2018 Irish Times journalist Kitty Holland took a defamation action against John Waters for accusing her of lying about the cause of death of Savita Halappanavar.[69]



  • Jiving at the Crossroads: The Shock of the New in Haughey's Ireland (Blackstaff, 1991) ISBN 978-0-85640-478-8
  • Race of Angels: Ireland and the Genesis of U2 (4th Estate/Blackstaff, 1994) ISBN 978-0-85640-542-6
  • Every Day Like Sunday? (Poolbeg, 1995) ISBN 978-1-85371-423-8
  • An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Ireland (Duckworth, 1997) ISBN 978-0-7156-2791-4 New edition (2001) ISBN 978-0-7156-3091-4
  • The Politburo Has Decided That You Are Unwell (Liffey Press, 2004) ISBN 978-1-904148-46-3
  • Lapsed Agnostic (Continuum, 2007) ISBN 978-0-8264-9146-6
  • Beyond Consolation: or How We Became Too Clever for God... and Our Own Good (Continuum, 2010) ISBN 978-1-4411-1421-1
  • Feckers: 50 People Who Fecked Up Ireland (Constable, 2010) ISBN 978-1-84901-442-7
  • Was it for this? Why Ireland lost the plot (Transworld Ireland, 2012) ISBN 978-1-848-27125-8
  • Give Us Back the Bad Roads (Currach Press, 2018) ISBN 9781782189015


See also


  1. ^ "Is Hot Press still cool?". Marketing Magazine (Ireland). Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ Books Written By John Waters
  3. ^ John Waters and The Irish Times Archived 28 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine Eamonn Fitzgeralds Rainy Day
  4. ^ Irish Times fires columnist John Waters, RTÉ News, Sunday 23 November 2003
  5. ^ Waters is reinstated at The Irish Times, RTÉ News, Monday 24 November 2003
  6. ^ a b c Calnan, Denise (28 March 2014). "Columnist John Waters 'stops contributing' to the Irish Times". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ a b c "John Waters has officially stopped writing for the Irish Times". 28 March 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ Waters, John (2018). Give Us Back the Bad Roads. Currach Press. p. About the Author. ISBN 1782189017.
  9. ^ "Waking up to what the millennium really means".
  10. ^ "Phone texts send wrong message".
  11. ^ Bush and Blair doing right thing Irish Times 24 March 2003.
  12. ^ Impose democracy on Iraq Irish Times 24 March 2003.
  13. ^ Garda Vetting & working with children 18 May 2005.
  14. ^ "The Irish Times".
  15. ^ Count Me Out Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (MP3 audio file)
  16. ^ "Find Local Contractors - Home Remodeling Contractors on Ecnext".
  17. ^ The Risk of Education Archived 2 August 2012 at by John Waters. Retrieved: 201104-15.
  18. ^ O'Gorman, Tom (14 December 2012). "John Waters on 'Ireland and the Abolition of God'". Iona Institute. Retrieved 2013.
  19. ^ "John Waters resigns from broadcasting watchdog -". Irish Independent. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  20. ^ "Ireland: Anti-gay marriage group win damages after drag queen calls them homophobes ·". Pink News. Retrieved 2014.
  21. ^ Laura Slattery (6 February 2014). "RTÉ show generates 330 emails and letters to regulator". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2014.
  22. ^ Sheridan, Kathy (1 May 2015). "Kathy Sheridan: First Families First take up fight for No side". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2015.
  23. ^ Waters, John (13 July 2013). "Searching for the soul of the 'true' Ireland ..." Sunday Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  24. ^ "Search". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  25. ^ "News - Hotpress".
  26. ^ "Watch LIVE: will Ireland find a winner for Oslo? - Eurovision Song Contest Lisbon 2018".
  27. ^ All Kinds of Everything Archived 15 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ John Waters (10 September 2010). "Soul poison hides lack of meaning for Picnickers". Retrieved 2010.
  29. ^ Una Mullally (12 September 2010). "If John Waters feels lost or disconnected from the new reality of Ireland, it's because this isn't his country anymore..." Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 2010.
  30. ^ The Restaurant Season 5 RTE Archives, February 10, 2007.
  31. ^ a b Past comes back to haunt us, The Irish Times, 13 September 2008, retrieved 4 July 2009
  32. ^ "Naked". RTÉ.
  33. ^ John Waters on blogs Archived 17 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine Twenty Major Blog. 10 January 2008.
  34. ^ More on John Waters and blogs Archived 19 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine Twenty Major Blog. 16 January 2008.
  35. ^ No child of John Waters will ever marry a... blogger... The DOBlog 16 January 2008.
  36. ^ Audio of Newstalk interview with Waters 10 January 2008 Archived 17 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ College Tribune (9 August 2012). "Gay marriage is a product of this bunker mentality". College Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  38. ^ "Panti's Back On". 16 January 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  39. ^ Cahir O'Doherty (19 January 2014). "Columnist John Waters in a Panti twist over anti-gay claims". Retrieved 2014.
  40. ^ Brian Byrne (16 January 2014). "RTÉ cuts part of show after legal complaint from Waters". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  41. ^ The Journal retrieved 26 January 2014
  42. ^ "RTÉ paid out EUR85,000 in 'homophobe' row". Irish Independent. 2 February 2014.
  43. ^ "RTÉ receive 847 complaints about Panti". The Journal. 6 February 2014.
  44. ^ "Over 2000 attend protest over "silencing" of homophobia debate". RTÉ.ie. 6 February 2014.
  45. ^ The Journal retrieved 30 January 2014
  46. ^ Video on YouTube retrieved 30 January 2014
  47. ^ The Journal retrieved 30 January 2014
  48. ^ Clare Daly TD retrieved 31 January 2014
  49. ^ [1] European Parliament retrieved 4 February 2014.
  50. ^ "RTÉ blames Irish defamation laws over EUR85,000 payout". Press Gazette. 6 February 2014. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016.
  51. ^ "Taoiseach dismisses call to make RTÉ answerable to the Dáil". The Irish Times. 5 February 2014.
  52. ^ Waters, John (23 April 2014). "So, who's illeberal here?". Village Magazine.
  53. ^ Horan, Niamh (13 April 2014). "'I've been put on trial over my beliefs'". Sunday Independent.
  54. ^ Sheehy, Clodagh; Blake Knox, Kirsty (14 April 2014). "Anger over John Waters' depression comments". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  55. ^ Harrington, Suzanne (21 April 2014). "My rage at John Waters' dated rhetoric and old-school ignorance". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2014.
  56. ^ "Remarks about depression sparked huge online debate". Sunday Independent. 20 April 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  57. ^ Finn, Melanie (14 April 2014). "John is depressed but he won't admit it, claims O'Connor". Evening Herald. Retrieved 2014.
  58. ^ "Written Answer No.120: Constitutional Amendments". Dáil Éireann debates. 28 November 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  59. ^ Casey, Ruain (1 May 2015). "New group First Families First to back No vote in referendum". Newstalk. Retrieved 2017.
  60. ^ a b "Waters: Referendum result 'catastrophic' for Ireland". Irish Examiner. 24 May 2015. Retrieved 2017.
  61. ^ a b c d e Duffy, Nick (9 February 2017). "Irish writer says he quit journalism 'because of LGBT activists'". PinkNews. Retrieved 2017.
  62. ^ "The new Ireland: new moral state?". WORLDbyte YouTube channel. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  63. ^ a b c Biography
  64. ^ John Waters (30 July 2014). "The alternative to drink is freedom from a substance that was the point of my life". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  65. ^ Solutions, OSD Ltd ( - Web, eBusiness, eMarketing, Training, Office and Software. "John Waters Biography, Ireland, Writer, Journalist, playwright, magazine editor, columnist and campaigner for fathers rights". Retrieved 2018.
  66. ^ a b Lally, Conor (3 September 2013). "John Waters briefly jailed over non-payment of parking fine". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2013.
  67. ^ "Journalist Waters jailed for two hours after refusing to pay fine". Irish Independent. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  68. ^ McCarthy, Justine (25 November 2018). "Reporter Kitty Holland sues John Waters for deriding Savita Halappanavar story". The Times. Retrieved 2018.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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