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Sinn Féin councillor's 'West Brit' comment "like an American calling someone an 'Uncle Tom'"

The Seanad has heard criticism of Sinn Féin councillor Micheál Mac Donncha’s Facebook comment.

Micheál Mac Donncha
Micheál Mac Donncha
Image: RollingNews.ie

A SINN FÉIN councillor’s claim that the people who run Irish rugby are ‘West Brits’ was condemned in the Seanad this afternoon.

Fine Gael seantor Jim D’Arcy said Micheál Mac Donncha’s remarks were equivalent to an American referring to someone as an ‘Uncle Tom’ - a derogatory term used to describe black people who are considered subservient to or act like white people.

His party colleague and Seanad leader Maurice Cummins said the comments were “disgraceful” and “bigoted”.

Mac Donncha’s made the comments in a Facebook post on Saturday evening during the course of a debate over the reasons why Amhrán na bhFiann is not played during Irish rugby games outside of the State.

The Sinn Féin Dáil candidate in Dublin Bay North said the reason was an “inferiority complex and anti-national attitude of the West Brits who still run Irish rugby”.

‘West Brit’ is a derogatory term used to describe Irish people who take an interest in British affairs or are condescending towards nationalist issues.

Speaking during the Seanad Order of Business today, D’Arcy said he condemned the “outrageous comments”:

This is the equivalent of an American calling someone an ’Uncle Tom’. This goes to the heart of who we are.

“In actual fact, the people who run Irish rugby could be termed Irish heroes as they have kept a united organisation throughout the Troubles, in a deeply fractured space.”

He added: “Remember, Amhrán na bhFiann is the national anthem of a 26-county Irish Republic and we are rightly proud of it.

“This rugby team is a much more ancient and deeply spiritual manifestation of an older Irish nation. Those who run the organisation should be applauded and not abused.

I just want to say one thing, he wouldn’t say that to our county men, the two Kearney brothers, Dave and Rob, if they were looking at him.

Speaking later during the Order of Business, Cummins said Mac Donncha’s remark was a “regrettable choice of language”.

Such comments are bigoted comments, which really… we’re adding credence to it by even discussing it here in this house.

Mac Donncha has defended his use of the term ‘West Brit’.

He said that he did not consider the term offensive and, when asked if he was referring specifically to the IRFU, he said: “If the cap fits, wear it.”

Sinn Féin has declined to comment on the remark.

Read: Sinn Féin councillor defends calling people who run Irish rugby ‘West Brits’

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Hugh O'Connell

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