Ó Broin says nomination of Sinn Féin’s Paddy Holohan’s for mayor ‘wrong’

Former MMA fighter was suspended from party over comments about women and race


Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin has said it was “wrong” that councillor and former MMA fighter Paddy Holohan, who was suspended by the party in January, was being put forward for nomination as mayor of South Dublin County Council.

On Friday night, Sinn Féin said it was “not aware” Mr Holohan’s name was being put forward.

In January, Mr Holohan made headlines after he questioned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s links to Ireland because of his Indian ancestry, and then made a series of highly-criticised remarks about women.

In a podcast interview the Sinn Féin councillor claimed that he had heard of “loads of” underage girls pursuing men and then blackmailing them. There were, he said “some f***ing scum women out there”.

Speaking then, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald launched disciplinary proceedings, saying Mr Holohan’s comments were “beyond offensive” and “vile”.

“I actually find them upsetting,” she said.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: she said Paddy Holohan’s comments were “beyond offensive”. Photograph: Getty Images
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: she said Paddy Holohan’s comments were “beyond offensive”. Photograph: Getty Images

In a social media post on Friday evening Mr Holohan declared that he had been nominated to run as a a candidate to become mayor of south Dublin by his fellow party colleagues, though it is not clear if he had the support of all.

“Honoured to be nominated in the running for mayor of south Dublin by my Sinn Féin comrades, congratulations to the incoming mayor and a job well done to outgoing mayor @vickicasserly,” he declared on Instagram.

On Saturday morning, Mr Ó Broin, the party’s housing spokesman, said he was “not happy” Mr Holohan’s name was put forward.

“ It was the wrong decision of councillors to nominate him,” the Dublin Mid West TD said. “The judgement of councillors was very very poor. It wasn’t the right choice.”

“I have to say I was very surprised that he was put forward. I heard about it after the vote had taken place. Paddy received a five month suspension for his comments on that podcast which don’t reflect our party policy and caused a great deal of anger internally within the party and great offence to many members of the public.”

When asked if the nomination should be withdrawn, Mr Ó Broin pointed out that the vote had taken place and Cllr Holohan had not been selected as Mayor by the local authority.

“The vote unfortunately took place yesterday so it has already happened. I do not think it was the right thing for the councillors to do. If I had had any involvement in it I would have opposed it.

“This is the local authority that I am partially elected in Dublin Mid West constituency - we only found out about this after the vote had taken place, which I think is very unfortunate and as I said I think it was the wrong decision by our councillors yesterday.

“The policies of the party are set by the members of the party and the comments that Paddy made on the podcast do not reflect either the policy or the views of the party. The fact that Mary Lou McDonald took swift action to suspend Paddy at the time, that he was disciplined appropriately according to the rules, I think says quite a lot about the party,” he said.

“I do think the judgement of our councillors was very, very poor.

“All I can say is this and I think I speak for both the leadership and the vast majority of the members, it wasn’t the right choice and it was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened.”

On Newstalk Breakfast the party’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that the first he had heard about the nomination was on social media. He too thought it was the wrong decision by Sinn Féin councillors.

On Friday night, a Sinn Féin spokesman said the party was “not aware of his nomination”, and that nominations for council positions were “a matter for council groups”.

A spokesman for the party confirmed on Friday that Cllr Holohan had been “recently readmitted to membership having serviced a five-month suspension”. No public announcement of his return was made.

Criticising the nomination as “insensitive”, Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan said it was “deeply disappointing” that Sinn Féin would nominate a candidate who had displayed ethnic prejudices towards our Taoiseach”.

Further action

Mr Geoghegan noted that the outcome of Sinn Féin’s internal party investigation into Mr Holohan’s comments had never been made public, and it was not known whether further action had been taken against him.

He called on Ms McDonald to clarify whether she supported the nomination, and to pledge that her party would “not honour or reward public representatives who display prejudice of any form”.

Social Democrats councillor Chris Pender tweeted that the decision to nominate Mr Holohan was “disgusting”, and criticised the four Sinn Féin councillors who voted for him to run in the mayoral race.

SDLP Belfast city councillor Séamas de Faoite tweeted “homophobia, misogyny and racism are not qualities of a first citizen in any part of our capital”.