A national racism watchdog has praised the “decisive action” taken by Sinn Féin arising from anti-Traveller comments made by its former Ennis Local Election Candidate, Cathal O Reilly.
The Ennis butcher resigned from the party on Wednesday afternoon after anti-Traveller comments he made on Facebook three years ago resurfaced earlier in the week.
While Mr O’Reilly’s name will appear on the ballot sheet on the ballot sheet today as a SF candidate, he is no longer a party candidate.
In his resignation statement, Mr O’Reilly admitted making racist comments, which he is deeply ashamed of now.
“While I no longer hold such views, the fact that I previously held them has been publicised now and this has caused embarrassment to me, my family and to Sinn Féin,” he said.
ENAR Ireland welcomed the “decisive action” taken by Sinn Fein arising from anti-Traveller comments made by Cathal O Reilly.
While Enar Ireland acknowledged Mr O’Reilly had confirmed in his resignation statement he no longer held theses views, it stressed there was an onus on all political organisation to ensure and enforce a zero tolerance approach to racism from their membership.
Shane O Curry, director of ENAR Ireland congratulated Sinn Fein for the unambiguous and forthright stance they have taken on this question.
“There can be no place in politics whatsoever for racism, it is just too dangerous a game to play. All of the major political parties have renewed the pledge they made when they signed ENAR Ireland’s anti-racism election protocol this year. We believe that the protocol has contributed to a climate where it is unacceptable in Ireland to use the kind of racism that can currently be seen in politics in other parts of Europe. Recognition should be given to all Irish parties for this,” he stated
However, that even with this pledge Mr O’Curry noted members of political organisations have continue to use racist and anti-Traveller comments, some of which have come from Fine Gael members.
“As the largest party in government Fine Gael has a particular role in promoting a political culture that reject racism and anti-Traveller sentiments, rather than seeking mitigating circumstances for abusive and discriminatory comments some of its members have made in recent months. Sinn Fein has set a standard of practice which should be seen as an example to all political parties and which other political parties would do well to follow”
ENAR Ireland coordinates a network of over 40 civil society organisations working in anti-racism in Ireland, and is the Irish coordination of ENAR, the European Network Against Racism. ENAR Ireland and ENAR work to coordinate common civil society led responses to racism and racial discrimination at a local, national and European level.