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FF candidate insists he didn't intend to be 'racist' towards Chinese community

Joe Crowley, a Fianna Fáil Local Area Representative in Limerick city, was quoted in the Limerick Leader today accusing three Chinese men with fishing rods of snaring duck to sell in their restaurants.

A FIANNA FÁIL local election candidate in Limerick has insisted he did not intend to be racist despite being reported to have accused the Chinese community of fishing for duck in a local lake to then sell in their restaurants.

Joe Crowley, a Fianna Fáil Local Area Representative in the north of Limerick city, was quoted in the Limerick Leader today accusing three Chinese men with fishing rods of snaring duck from the Westfields Wetlands.

“To my mind, fishing from this platform [by the lake] can only spell one thing: these guys are out to get ducks,” he told the paper. He was then asked what for, and said: “Crispy Duck in the Chinese restaurant tonight.”

However when contacted this evening by TheJournal.ie, Crowley insisted it was not his intention to say what he is quoted as saying.

He acknowledged the piece in the Leader did not reflect well on him: “Reading it it looks bad, compared to what was the intention and also the actual remarks made.

“I am a Local Area Representative, I have friends in all walks of life between Europeans, Asians and Africans,” he insisted.

When pressed on whether he did accuse Chinese people of fishing in the lake for duck to serve at their restaurants, he said: “I can’t say or not say, it was all done on the phone. I don’t know. Was I led to say something that I said, I don’t know.”

Call for expulsion

Crowley said that he rang the journalist who wrote the story, Nick Rabbits, and asked him about the quotes attributed to him. “I rang the journalist and I asked did I make any racist comment and he said, ‘No, you didn’t.’”

This evening he has been condemned by the European Network Against Racism in Ireland with director Shane O’Curry calling on Micheál Martin to expel him from the party, describing Crowley’s comments as “completely baseless”.

“Remarks like these have no place in Irish political life, and run counter to the anti-racism Election Protocol to which Fianna Fáil has signed up. Does Fianna Fail really want to have its name increasingly associated with racism?” O’Curry said.

Crowley told this website he was seeking the highlight the issue of people fishing at the lake and his concerns that this could effect livestock based there.

“To see someone fishing from there with swans and cygnets being born is galling to me,” he said, adding that he put the first duck in the lake in 1973 with about 40 ducks there now.

He said he “would love to have dialogue” with any groups accusing him of being racist, adding: “If I am in anyway accused of being racist, which I am not, I apologise profusely. People here know I am certainly not racist.”

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson declined to comment when contacted this evening.

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Hugh O'Connell

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