A Fianna Fáil county councillor has been slammed for making what were described as “anti-Traveller” comments today when he spoke on local radio. A Donegal TD says his comments amount to “hate speech”.
Cllr Sean McEniff told Ocean FM Travellers should be housed “in isolation” away from settled communities.
Reacting to that, Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has issued a statement where he branded the comments by Cllr McEniff as “utterly disgraceful” and called for the councillor to apologise.
He further called on Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin to distance himself from the comments and outline clearly what disciplinary action Fianna Fáil will take against the councillor.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “Councillor Sean McEniff made a number of remarks about Traveller families ranging from saying that they would ‘wreck’ houses to branding them as ‘bad eggs’ and also saying ‘You wouldn’t want them beside you and I don’t want them beside me.’ These comments are tantamount to hate speech and they have no place in Irish society.
“There is a gap in trust between the Traveller and settled community and it is the responsibility of all public representatives to act responsibly and build trust. Anti-Traveller racism in all forms is unacceptable in Ireland, and it is mind boggling to think that Councillor McEniff would think ethnic slurs are tolerable.
“We must challenge racism at every opportunity and I am calling on Mícheal Martin to distance himself from the comments and outline what disciplinary action he will take against this Councillor. It is an example of the systemic racism that Travellers face in Irish society and for this reason Councillor McEniff should apologise unreservedly immediately,” he said.
The comments arose following yesterday’s revelation that Donegal County council had purchased a house near Ballyshannon at a cost of €230,000 for social housing purposes.