Eamon Ryan apologises for using N-word in Dáil while calling for inclusivity

Eamon Ryan apologises for using N-word in Dáil while calling for inclusivity

The Green Party leader has come under fire from his own party members after he used a racial slur in the Dáil.

Eamon Ryan opened his remarks today with an impassioned speech about racism in the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a policeman, and how we should take time to reflect on Ireland's own issues with race.

While recounting an excerpt he had read in a national newspaper, Mr Ryan repeated the abuse suffered by a young black Irish man, and said: "Giving his experience of being othered from the age of six, being given that name 'You n*****'".

Mr Ryan later tweeted: "I made a speech in the Dáil today about the scourge of racism in our society.

"In quoting from an article I read this morning, I repeated a racial slur, and I was completely wrong to do so.

"I want to apologise for any hurt caused. I know this particular word should never be used."

Within minutes of Mr Ryan's speech in the chamber, a number of opposition TDs and prominent activists criticised Mr Ryan's use of the word.

Likewise, Green members began messaging each other about the speech immediately via Whatsapp group chat.

Some of which has been seen by the Examiner.

Although some members said they recognised that Mr Ryan's intent was not to cause hurt or offence, a number of members said they were "mortified" and "disappointed" by the situation.

Others backed Mr Ryan, noting that he was repeating what was said, not stating the words himself.

Mr Ryan is facing a leadership challenge against his deputy leader Catherine Martin, and one party regional chairman say this "could be the straw that breaks the camels back".

“The use of the word made me deeply uncomfortable, so I can only imagine how members who are people of colour feel," they said.

"I’m gay, and if Eamon had said the word ‘f*****’, even when quoting someone, I would be completely despondent.

"We all love Eamon, but this is the latest in a long string of bad gaffes, except this is a lot more hurtful than wolves or salads.

I don’t think he’s a racist, or hateful, but that isn’t the point. You just don’t throw around slurs, no matter the context.

When approached by the Examiner, Greens Councillor for Clondalkin and Spokesperson for the Gaeltacht Peter Kavanagh said: "It's unacceptable and a disappointing day to be part of the Green Party.

"Nobody in the world thinks Eamon is a racist, or the use of it was racist, but the context is irrelevant, and it's not for us to say its okay."

A spokesperson for the Green Party said that Mr Ryan plans to apologise for the use of the word.

"He massively regrets saying it and will be apologising in due course," they said.

"He accepts that there is no context, he genuinely believed that in attempting to illustrate the strength of racial abuse that it was an appropriate context in which to use the word, but he accepts now there isn't an acceptable context.

"It would have been very easy to allude to a slur or a term in a vague sense and people would've known what he meant.

"It was a misguided attempt to make what he was saying impactful, and it was a mistake".

Cllr. Daniel Whooley, Green Party representative for Ongar, said the comments were "morally reprehensible".

"No person should use such words of hate regardless of context, especially in Dáil Éireann.

"I do not believe that any parliamentarian who invokes such words, be it by mistake or on purpose, should lead an Irish Political party, the use of these words is disgusting His comments today go against core principles of the Green Party. It does not matter if it was a mistake, what matters is that he used the words."

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