Use of ‘nasty’ language by some politicians when engaging with Roscrea protesters criticised

Labour TD says use of term ‘colonisation’ when talking about asylum seekers ‘appalling’

Opposition parties have criticised the use of “nasty, poisonous and deliberate” language by politicians when speaking to protesters outside Racket Hall hotel in Roscrea.

With immigration set to take centre stage as the Dáil resumes business following its Christmas break on Wednesday, Labour and the Social Democrats specifically criticised Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath following comments he made to protestors at the hotel.

“Public representatives again have to take responsibility,” the Labour Justice spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said on the Leinster House plinth on Wednesday. “We saw Deputy Mattie McGrath again use the phrase ‘colonisation’ in the recent past in relation to Roscrea. That is just appalling.”

Mr Ó Ríordáin said some rural Independents had been given a “light touch” by the media, adding: “It’s not fun and colourful what they do. It’s nasty, it’s poisonous, and it’s deliberate, and it needs to be called out.”


He said that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors seemed to be “mouthpieces” for resistance to accommodating refugees and asylum seekers.

“We’re at a very dangerous and ugly crossroads in Ireland, and people need to know which road they want to go down,” he said, adding that it was legitimate to ask questions about immigration policy and service provision.

“The political system has to cop on,” he said, adding that questions needed to be asked of Mary Lou McDonald about how Sinn Féin representatives had ended up on platforms in Roscrea and other parts of the country.

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore said that politicians “should not be using their platform to create division”.

“It’s not ok for politicians to use their remit to do that and I would ask politicians refrain from that because we do need to have cohesion and solidarity when it comes to this issue.”

Asked what she meant by that, she said Mr McGrath had spoken about colonisation. “That language is absolutely inappropriate and it’s wrong and it is not something that we should be hearing from any national politician.”

Mr McGrath has been asked for a comment about the about comments from the Labour and Social Democrats TDs.

Meanwhile, Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan defended the party’s decision to have a dialogue with Sineád Gibney, the chief executive of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), about a potential European run for the party while she was leading a State entity.

The party’s deputy leader said it was “normal and appropriate” for Ms Gibney to hold talks with the party while in her position with IHREC. She has now announced that she will resign and seek a nomination to run for the party in the European elections in early June.

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has criticised the move, arguing it is inappropriate as IHREC is apoliticial.

“I don’t think political office should be confined just to people in elected office,” Mr O’Callaghan reporters at Leinster House on Wednesday.

“I think, you know, anyone in this country in a democracy has the right to consider whether or not they want to run in an election. I do think it’s appropriate for anyone who wants to consider running elections to be able to consider that.

“I don’t think there’s any issue. I wouldn’t expect someone in a role like that if they’re considering seeking a nomination from the party not to discuss. I think that is normal and appropriate behaviour.”

Elsewhere, People Before Profit has called on the Taoiseach and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald not to meet members of the US administration due to its support for Israel during the bombardment of Gaza.

Paul Murphy TD said that Leo Varadkar should not go to the traditional Shamrock ceremony at the White House on St Patrick’s Day.

“No politician should go and meet with Genocide Joe Biden (or) should meet with members of the US administration in the US for St Patrick’s Day as long as this genocide is continuing and as long as the US is providing huge amounts of military and political support for it,” he said.

“We have to send a signal… that Ireland says no to this genocide, opposes what is happening, and opposes US support for it. It’s important that the government and all politicians say we will not be going to shake hands with Joe Biden or other members of the US administration.”

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times