Taoiseach condemns FF councillor's 'unacceptable' comments about Travellers

Taoiseach condemns FF councillor's 'unacceptable' comments about Travellers

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: "The party will be meeting with the councillor and we'll be engaging with the councillor concerned because those remarks are completely unacceptable." Photo: Damien Storan

The Taoiseach has condemned remarks made about Travellers by a Fianna Fáil councillor as "unacceptable" and said the party is now taking it "very seriously".

Galway City councillor Michael Crowe has apologised to the Travelling community for his comments.

Cllr Crowe said Traveller culture was “not conducive” to living with most settled communities, adding that “history has proven” that it leads to “confrontation and general uneasiness”.

Issuing an apology on Twitter this evening, he said he also wanted to apologise to his political party.

He said: “I would like to offer a sincere genuine apology to all members of the Travelling Community for my comments earlier this week. There is cut and thrust in politics but there is no room for the broad ranging sweeping generalisations I made about Travellers. For that, I am sorry.

“While there are difficulties in certain scenarios there is a way to deal with those and on this occasion I did not do so in a correct manner. I would also like to offer an apology to my @fiannafailparty for causing hurt to many of our members. 

“I’m making no excuses, I’m simply apologising. I was wrong.” Earlier today, the Taoiseach has condemned Cllr Crowe’s remarks about Travellers by a and said it was "unacceptable" and said the party is now taking it "very seriously".

Initial comments

Fianna Fail councillor for Galway City Michael Crowe
Fianna Fail councillor for Galway City Michael Crowe

Objecting to proposals to accommodate members of the Traveller community in a house in the Renmore are of Galway, Mr Crowe said: “I’m not sure too many of the housing officials would like a Traveller family moving in beside them… but yet it’s okay to foist it on other people. And I don’t believe that’s fair.”

Mr Crowe added: “I understand that everybody is entitled to a home and everybody is entitled to be housed, but I do not believe that putting members of the Travelling community into the heart of Renmore is conducive to either the occupants of the house themselves or indeed the local community."

Micheál Martin said the comments are "unacceptable" and "not in line at all with Fianna Fáil policy".

The party will be meeting with the councillor and we'll be engaging with the councillor concerned because those remarks are completely unacceptable. 

"We take it from there. I don't want to prejudice what transpires but we are taking the issue seriously, very seriously, and we will engage with the councillor."

Speaking at an International Rural Development Conference in Co. Cavan, Mr Martin said: "There can be no tolerance for such an approach to the Travelling community. I've met with them recently, they're facing enormous challenges, young Travellers in particular, in terms of securing employment, in terms of education completion. 

"We need to do everything possible to support them. Obviously, due process follows in this case and the party will engage with the councillor."

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said it considers the comments by the Fianna Fáil councillor "disturbing and irresponsible, not just for the hurt caused to an entire community but also because comments like this from a political figure create an atmosphere permissive of hate and intolerance".

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