TD condemns racial abuse of election candidates

Fergus O’Dowd highlights case of party colleague whose posters he claims were defaced by the Irish Freedom Party

A call has been made for action to be taken against those engaging in racial abuse of election candidates, including the defacing of their posters. Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd highlighted the case of his party colleague Ejiro O’Hare-Stratton who is standing in the Drogheda urban area.

“Last week, the Irish Freedom Party wrote the slogan ‘Ireland Is Full’ on her posters,” he told the Dáil on Thursday.

The former minister said “a lot of racial abuse is being hurled at candidates of different colour and from different countries and religions”, and TDs of all parties and none had to stand up to this.

Mr O’Dowd highlighted Ms O’Hare-Stratton’s background. He said she “came to Drogheda over 33 years ago with the Medical Missionaries of Mary. She qualified as a nurse and has a master’s degree in hospital administration. She got married and has four children. Two are doctors, one is a dentist and her son is in his first year of university and represents Ireland internationally in athletics.


“She is a fantastic woman. She set up a group, Hands 4 Unity, which brings all communities, races and religions together in Drogheda.”

The Louth TD told his Dáil colleagues: “It is important that we as a parliament, regardless of whether we are members of parties or none, stand up and condemn these actions and ensure they are dealt with.”

Irish Freedom Party leader Hermann Kelly later rejected Mr O’Dowd’s claim as “completely untrue”.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said he had seen the attacks on Ms O’Hare-Stratton’s campaign “and the racist tropes that are being at thrown at new Irish people and communities”.

He added that a Fianna Fáil candidate in Limerick, Suzzie O’Deniyi, “puts up with some awful abuse. All of us have to stand united against this type of racial abuse,” he said.

“Thankfully, more people from our diverse society are running for local authorities across all parties and none. All of us support that, and I certainly do,” he added.

“These types of attacks on campaigns and the abuse hurled at candidates, regardless of background, are absolutely abhorrent and should be condemned by every single party and member of this House.

Mr O’Brien added: “I want to wish Ejiro O’Hare-Stratton all the very best for her campaign and tell her to keep going, as I know she will.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times