Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that the response of Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny to racist, anti-Traveller leaflets distributed by one of his party Councillors in Dublin is unacceptable.
He has called on Mr Kenny to ensure that Councillor Emer Higgins entirely disowns the offensive sentiments expressed in the leaflets and that Fine Gael clarifies its position on the issue.
Gerry Adams said:
“Earlier this month I wrote to Taoiseach and Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny raising concerns regarding racist, anti-Traveller literature distributed in the name of Fine Gael Councillor, Emer Higgins in South Dublin.
“This was initiated on foot of complaints I received about a leaflet by Councillor Higgins, in which she expressed delight at a decision by South Dublin County Council to abandon a proposal to purchase ten purpose-built houses in Ballynakelly for the Traveller Accommodate Scheme.
“Councillor Higgins claimed the decision represented a ‘victory for the community’.
“This leaflet caused widespread anger and many saw it as an encouragement to hate crime.
“Councillor Higgins’ statement that anti-social behaviour is an issue in the estate and that this was a reason not to proceed with Traveller Accommodation was an attempt to link the Travelling Community and anti-social crime.
“This type of politics is the antithesis of social inclusion, equality and the tolerance of diversity that we need to see in Irish society. It needs to be rejected by all political parties.
“I urged Enda Kenny, as Fine Gael Leader, to ensure that this leaflet was withdrawn and that Councillor Higgins apologises to the Travelling Community for the hurt she has caused.
“This week I received a response from the Taoiseach informing me that Councillor Higgins has since issued an apology on her website.
“I went to Councillor Higgins website and found a two-line post. This was not a statement, it bore no headline and it failed to give the context of this controversy.
“There is no acknowledgement by Councillor Higgins that what she said was wrong, discriminatory towards Travellers or racist.
“This is unacceptable, as is the Taoiseach’s response.
“I am now asking Enda Kenny, as Leader of Fine Gael, to show some leadership on the scourge of anti-Traveller racism by facing it down within his own party.
“Again, I am calling on Mr Kenny to ensure that Councillor Higgins entirely disowns the racist sentiments expressed in this leaflet and that the Fine Gael party makes its position clear on this issue.”