[Sinn Fein]

8 February 2000

Fine Gael challenged: repudiate councillor's anti-refugee comments

Dublin City Sinn Fein Councillor Larry O'Toole has called on the Fine Gael leader John Bruton to repudiate remarks about refugees made by a Mayo Fine Gael councillor.

Councillor John Flannery said that asylum seekers and refugees moving to the West of Ireland should be screened for infectious diseases.

``I am calling on John Bruton to repudiate these views from his Fine Gael party's representative. This man has treated minorities such as the Traveller community with absolute contempt and has aired racist comments in the past,'' said Councillor O'Toole. ``How much longer will Mr Bruton allow him to voice his repugnant views under the Fine Gael banner?''

Councillor O'Toole said:

``This is the third time I have issued a statement of this nature relating to Mr Flannery. In the past he suggested that Travellers should be electronically tagged to keep track of their movements.'' Mr Flannery was expelled from the Fine Gael Parliamentary party as a result of these comments. However, he was later reinstated and given a public apology by Mr Bruton.

``Comments such as those expressed by Mr Flannery sound similar to those expressed by the ultra right-wing Jorg Haider of Austria's Freedom Party. Fascist and racist comments have no place whatever in a modern democracy.

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