Fianna Fáil election candidate apologises for ‘gypsy’ comment

Prominent party activist Brian Mohan said comment was “ill-advised” and wrong

Fianna Fáil candidate Brian Mohan said using the term ‘gypsy’ was ‘ill-advised and an ill-informed choice of words when referring to someone’. File photograph: Collins

Fianna Fáil candidate Brian Mohan said using the term ‘gypsy’ was ‘ill-advised and an ill-informed choice of words when referring to someone’. File photograph: Collins

 

A Fianna Fáil candidate for the upcoming local elections in Dublin city has apologised for using the word “gypsy” to describe an individual on social media.

Brian Mohan, who is running for a Dublin City Council seat in the north inner city ward, said the phrase was “ill advised” and “wrong”.

On Saturday, Mr Mohan commented on a friend’s Facebook post, which had asked if any dentists were open in the area on a Sunday.

In his Facebook comment, he referred to an individual who runs a dentistry practice as “the gypsy from across the bridge”. In a further comment Mr Mohan said “I’ll make it my mission to close that pr*ck down.”

Mr Mohan is a prominent party activist, and chair of the Fianna Fáil Dublin Central branch. Responding to queries from The Irish Times, Mr Mohan confirmed he used the term gypsy in the social media comment.

“On reflection, it was ill-advised and an ill-informed choice of words when referring to someone,” he said. “It was wrong and I apologise for the use of the word and for responding to a comment without properly thinking what I was writing.”

It is understood the individual referred to in the social media post is from Eastern Europe. However, Mr Mohan said the comment was not intended to refer to the individual’s ethnicity, and the comment was deleted on Wednesday.

Mr Mohan unsuccessfully contested the local elections for Fianna Fáil in 2014. Sitting councillors in the inner city ward include Lord Mayor Nial Ring, Independent Christy Burke, Fine Gael Ray McAdam, and Social Democrat Garry Gannon. The local and European elections will take place this May.

In 2015, Mr Mohan took a high profile legal case challenging gender quotas for party election candidates, after he was prevented from contesting a Dublin Central selection convention.

The party’s head office had instructed only one female candidate be chosen to contest the general election, and FF councillor Mary Fitzpatrick was selected.

Both the High Court and Court of Appeal since found Mr Mohan lacked the necessary legal standing to challenge the Electoral (Political Funding) Act 2012, which links State funding for parties to gender quota targets. Last month a five-judge Supreme Court reserved judgment on Mr Mohan’s challenge.

Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point, who represent the Traveller and Roma communities, said in Eastern Europe the term gypsy was “very offensive”.

Mr Collins said in his opinion there was a “racist dimension” to the comments, and said Pavee Point would be calling on political parties to sign up to an anti-racism protocol ahead of the upcoming elections.