Sinn Féin’s Cllr. Chris O’Leary has called on Fianna Fáil to sanction former Lord Mayor, Cllr.Terry Shannon, over comments he made in which he described Home Help and Household Charge protestors as “thugs” and “gurriers”. O’leary has also called on Shannon to explain a derogatory remark, that has appeared in the press, regarding protestors drawing the dole.
Cllr. O Leary said:
“Cllr. Shannon’s comments are horrifically insulting to those who provide vital care to older people and those living with disabilities in our city. Some of them have given lifetimes of dedication to community-based health care. It is unacceptable that a former Lord Mayor would treat ordinary, decent people with such callous disdain. Fianna Fáil needs to call Terry to account and demand that he issue an apology immediately.”
“I think the comments are indicative of a man who became even more detached from the reality in communities during his time as Lord Mayor. To launch such a tirade against Home Helps, at a time when Fianna Fáil are trying to present themselves as a credible opposition to this government, is very telling. I think if Cllr.Shannon had shown more proactivity and a willingness to engage with people who are feeling the sharp impact of cuts then I suspect his perspective would be different. It would have presented him with a chance of understanding the anger in the public gallery that night. He wouldn’t have seen the hoards of Babylon coming over the hills. Maybe he would have seen what any reasonable person sees -ordinary, decent people who simply can’t take anymore.”
O’Leary is also demanding that Cllr. Shannon explain comments he made to the press in which he seemed to imply that the protestors are people who rush to collect social welfare payments.
“For Cllr.Shannon to make such a derogatory comment regarding the need for social welfare at any time would be alarming. For him to make it when approximately 26,000 people in Cork area are on the live register is utterly despicable. We have to remember that this comment came from a representative of a party who drove the country into it’s worst economic crisis since the foundation of the state. His hypocrisy is disgusting. If his mentality is reflective of the present culture in Fianna Fail then it is clear that the party hasn’t changed one bit. In fact I would say that it is now up to Michael Martin, as leader of Fianna Fáil, to address this today.”
The Sinn Féin leader on Cork City Council continued by suggesting that there may be more than a hint of disagreement in the Fianna Fáil camp regarding the issue of protests:
“It seems that Cllr. Shannon’s perspective is very much at odds with that of his colleague Cllr. Mary Shields who has called for people to travel to Dublin next week to protest against HSE cuts. People also have a right to protest at local government level. The reality is that a lot of Home Helps can’t afford to take time away from their patients to travel to Dublin. It is critical that we advocate for their right to have their voices heard within their own city and by their local political representatives. I would encourage people to join the march in support of the Home Helps campaign in Cork next Saturday. The protest will set off from Connolly Hall at 2pm. ”