|Known for||Writing in The Irish Times, entering the Eurovision Song Contest|
|Rita Simons (2014-present)|
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. 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.
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. In March 2014, Waters left The Irish Times, 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.
Waters has referred to himself as a "neo-Luddite" or later as a "luddite". 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.
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. Waters' article led to a response from the head of Amnesty International's Irish branch.
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. 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".
He was a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland until he resigned in January 2014, during time that he was a litigant seeking damages from the broadcaster RTÉ.
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.
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."
On 13 July 2014, he was published in the Sunday Independent in what the paper described as his first column for them. He has since written regular columns for that paper and its sister the Irish Independent.
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. 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. 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.
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.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".
In 2007, Waters took part as one of the guest amateur chefs, in the RTE The Restaurant, programme. In 2008, he took part in a television programme which researched his family's past. Parish records revealed that his great-granduncle, also called John Waters, died of starvation during the Great Famine.
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).
This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (April 2014)
During a newspaper review on radio station, Newstalk 106, Waters declared blogs and bloggers to be "stupid". He then repeated those claims the following week, sparking controversy amongst Irish bloggers who took exception to his views. In the same interview, Waters claimed that "sixty to seventy percent of the internet is pornography".
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.
Waters and the others mentioned threatened RTÉ and O'Neill with legal action. RTÉ subsequently removed that section of the interview from their online archive. 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. RTÉ paid monies to Waters and others mentioned.
RTÉ received hundreds of complaints about the issue. A rally against the payout and censorship drew 2,000 people, and the appropriateness of the payout was later discussed by members of the Oireachtas. The issue was also discussed in the European Parliament. RTÉ's head of television defended the EUR85,000 payout and blamed the decision mostly on Ireland's Anti-Defamation Laws.
In February 2014 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. Reports stated that he had been unhappy at The Irish Times since the controversy.
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."
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.
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.
After the referendum passed, John Waters described the result as 'catastrophic' for Irish society. 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".
In February 2017, John Waters spoke at a panel where he blamed LGBT activists for his decision to quit journalism. 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". 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". "The ugliest phenomenon I have ever seen in 30 years a journalist," Waters added.
He also claimed that the clerical child abuse cases were "closely aligned to homosexuality". 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".
Waters was born in Castlerea, County Roscommon. He had a daughter in 1996 named Róisín with singer Sinéad O'Connor. He suffered from an alcohol addiction until 1989 when he gave it up completely, a decision which he says has transformed his life. He married Rita Simons in December 2014.
In September 2013 he was jailed for around two hours in Wheatfield Prison over non-payment of a parking fine. The case dated back to 2011 and Waters claimed that he returned to his car one minute over a 15-minute grace period. He refused to pay the fine as a matter of principle.