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'Rasputin' in preach of court order

Bible basher spends night in cells for flouting ban on giving sermons as locals complain of homophobic, anti-abortion and anti-mask speeches

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Strong views: Stephen Tallon quotes the bible as he preaches sermons to locals

Strong views: Stephen Tallon quotes the bible as he preaches sermons to locals

Our man Patrick confronts Stephen Tallon

Our man Patrick confronts Stephen Tallon

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Strong views: Stephen Tallon quotes the bible as he preaches sermons to locals

AN ANTI-MASK street-preacher dubbed the 'Rasputin of Wexford's Bullring' spent a night in a Garda cell this week for breaching an order banning his sermons in the southeast town.

Stephen Tallon (37) had only just been issued with a District Court order prohibiting him from preaching his gospel when it is alleged he took to his pulpit in the town's Bullring on Monday evening and began orating again.

Tallon, who doesn't believe Covid-19 to be a real thing, considers homosexual sex to be an unnatural act and who is strongly anti-abortion, has placed numerous videos of his teachings on a YouTube channel and can be heard strongly opposing the use of face-masks..

On Monday, Judge John Cheadle banned him from preaching anywhere in the town after local business people told the court that he had expressed homophobic, racist and anti-abortion views in talks which sometimes last for two hours.

But shortly after receiving the order, Tallon began Monday evening's sermon in the Bullring, the court was told.

He was arrested and remanded in custody overnight in Wexford Garda station to appear before the District Court again on Tuesday afternoon to answer a charge of failing to comply with a civil order.

Tallon pleaded not guilty and signed a bail bond, containing a condition that he will now comply with the order..

But speaking with the Sunday World as he returned home, Tallon said he will now appeal the initial order as: "I have committed no crime that warrants such a limitation on my right to freedom of expression."

He added: "It has not been established in court that I have committed a criminal offence.

"In fact, the judge, still to this date, hasn't given me the reasons for his ruling grounded in law.

"To say this was because I was upsetting people - well, even the term 'upsetting' is subjective surely. I am going to appeal this order to the Circuit Court."

During Monday's initial hearing, seven witnesses complained about Tallon's activities as Garda Superintendent Jim Doyle sought an order seeking to make Tallon subject to a ban from preaching anywhere in the town.

The judge heard that five adult behaviour warning orders had been served on the respondent since the beginning of June to no avail. Testimony was heard from local business people stating that Tallon had expressed homophobic, racist and anti-abortion views in talks which sometimes lasted two hours.

Traders told how they were losing business as they were turned off by the amplified speeches purporting to convey the word of God.

The superintendent estimated that his gardaí had been called in response to Tallon's activities 21 times.

Paula Kehoe, who has worked in the town's Sara King boutique for 20 years, described the content of Tallon's speeches as racist and homophobic, adding that he makes a mockery of people wearing masks.

Diana Donnelly who has been running the Diana Donnelly boutique in the neighbourhood for 47 years described him as the Rasputin of the Bullring.

'He rants and raves and has no regard for sensitivities,' she said, adding that her heart sinks when she sees him and felt that his behaviour was intimidating.

Solicitor Catherine Stack told how the windows are kept shut in her office on even the hottest day because of the noise created by the respondent. She said that his activities amounted to harassment, adding that they caused distress and alarm.

Publican Eddie Macken, 40 years running a business in the Bullring said that the preacher had been prompted by the sight of a big man to declare that obesity is a sin.

Patrick O'Connor, who works in Frank's Place close to the open-air pulpit of the Bullring complained that Tallon had said it was 'unnatural' to be homosexual.

In his own defence, Tallon responded that street preaching "is a cornerstone of our society. People are entitled to hear the gospel".

The judge prohibited Tallon from preaching anywhere on Main Street, in the Bullring or anywhere else in the town.

Speaking to this newspaper, Tallon strongly denied the allegation of racism but accepted he was anti-abortion and considered homosexual sex to be unnatural.

Regarding his views on Covid-19, he said: "the reason you are wearing a mask is that you are living in fear. And my understanding of the bible is this … that the fearful will go to the lake of fire.

"Science recognises that there are over 200 types of coronavirus. Covid-19 is where I draw the line because there is no evidence of it. I don't believe that it is a real thing."

Tallon is due back in court on September 15.

Irish Independent