“LANGUAGE seeking to incite violence in the Council chamber is completely inappropriate, irrespective of the context, and is not appropriate for any member of the Council.”
That’s according to Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan, speaking this week in relation to comments made by Fianna Fáil councillor and Cathaoirleach of the Metropolitan District, Azad Talukder, at last week’s full meeting of the local authority.
Condemning the shocking scenes in the capital on November 23, after a knife attack on three children and a crèche worker outside a school in Dublin’s inner city and the riots that ensued, Cllr Talukder expressed strong views.
“I strongly believe that this is not the face of Ireland. This is just some criminals looting the shops. I don’t think they follow any ideological purpose. They come to the streets and just rob. They should get punishment,” he said.
“Not even an animal does this kind of thing. It is very shameful and they should get public punishment.
“I’d like to see them shot in the head or bring the public in and beat them until they die,” he told council members.
City North representative Cllr Conor Sheehan, who called for the comments to be withdrawn at the time, now believes a full retraction is needed at next Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting.
“As councillors, we have a responsibility to be tempered and measured in the language we use,” Cllr Sheehan told the Limerick Post.
“The terrible situation and violence we saw in Dublin last Thursday was horrific and, as councillors, we have a responsibility to seek to calm and not worsen the situation.
“The language used in relation to shooting is conduct unbecoming from any member of Limerick City and County Council, not to mind a member in a position of leadership such as Cathaoirleach.
“We need to see a full retraction of the comments and statement from the Cathaoirleach at the next Metropolitan meeting and an assurance that he will not use this type of language going forward. This whole saga has been an embarrassment for the local authority and not something I want to be associated with.
“Using this type of language only serves to distract attention from the victims at the centre of this attack. Language matters in politics and these words were dreadful, unacceptable, and beyond the pale. Things are tense enough at present without this sort of unnecessary nonsense,” he insisted.
Cllr Talukder took to social media last week to apologise for his remarks, posting on Facebook: “I would like to wholeheartedly, and unreservedly apologise to everyone for the statement made by me in the council meeting last Monday. I was very emotional and traumatised when I heard someone had stabbed a five-year-old child and was reacting to that and I misspoke. I did not mean to refer to the rioters but was speaking about someone who could stab a child. Even at that, I had difficulty expressing myself properly through English. As an elected councillor I should not have used the language I did, I should have been more careful with my words, and I am truly sorry.
“As my party headquarters has said, such use of words is totally unacceptable. I have apologised to party headquarters, and I apologise to the public. I understand that the party’s rules and procedures committee will be looking at this and I will of course fully engage and comply with the committee. I have much respect for the country and the council, and my apology is heartfelt.”