THE MAYOR OF London has been criticised for offending the Irish community in remarks he made about a St Patrick’s Day celebration in London.
Irish groups in London have said Boris Johnson’s remarks were “contemptuous” and belong in the past. However Johnson has refuted the criticisms and said that he “appreciates and admires the Irish”.
In an excerpt from an interview in the New Statesman magazine this week Johnson said:
I’ll tell you what makes me angry – lefty crap,” he thunders in response. Like? “Well, like spending £20,000 on a dinner at the Dorchester for Sinn Féin.
Johnson was referring to the St Patrick’s Day dinner held by the Irish community in London every year. The annual dinner, which was cancelled by Johnson in 2009, was a self-financing event attended by Irish actors, politicians, communities figures and celebrities, including Bob Geldof, Pauline McLynn and Dermot O’Leary.
A letter in today’s Guardian signed by restaurateur Richard Corrigan, actor Adrian Dunbar, Labour party politicians and community activists, said many people “will be disturbed by the mayor of London’s contemptuous remarks about a community which has given, and continues to give, so much to our capital city”.
Johnson has dismissed the criticisms. In a statement to TheJournal.ie this afternoon a spokesperson for the Greater London Authority said that the mayor “appreciates and admires the Irish like every other community in this wonderful cosmopolitan capital”.
“The mayor does not believe that he was elected to organise exclusive and expensive dinners at the Dorchester hotel,” said the spokesperson.
“By focusing resources on what really matters to Londoners he has been able to hire more police officers, quadruple rape crisis provision, build an unprecedented number of affordable homes, preside over record investment and cut council tax”.