A Galway councillor who previously referred to people fighting as acting like a “Zulu tribe” will likely be appointed mayor of Galway. Noel Larkin, who is an independent, could be elevated to the office due to a ruling pact between the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats, and a number of other independent councillors.
Larkin has also previously attacked immigrants and members of the Traveller community.
The consequence of the pact was revealed by the Galway branch of People Before Profit (PBP). In a post on its Facebook page it drew attention to controversial comments made by Larkin in the past. The branch asked if the parties involved in the pact can “really stand over” the move. Going further, it questioned whether the pact aligns with
the wishes of their voters to appoint a mayor who has regularly expressed racist views
And it also queried:
Is this what we want for Galway, the most multicultural city in Ireland, in 2020?
As a result, the branch has set up a petition asking people who don’t want Larkin as their mayor to sign it in order to register their opposition.
During an appearance on Galway Bay FM last month Larkin was discussing footage posted online of a group of people involved in a brawl. When talking about the footage the councillor referred to the people in the video as acting like a “Zulu tribe”. He said:
This is going back to the Zulu tribe thing where you just pick up a stick and you start thrashing the life out of somebody else just because you have an argument with them.
Larkin has also attacked the Traveller community in the past. He wrote that they are “given every opportunity to be housed and integrated into society”. But, he argued, they “choose to reject” this.
He also called on the Traveller community to “apologise to the settled community for branding them all as racists”.
The independent has also denounced the immigrant community. In 2018 he told the Connaught Tribune that immigrants are engaging in “blatant misuse” of Ireland’s social welfare system.
In the same piece he was further reported as stating that the government is “welcoming families who are here for a good time with no intention of making a contribution to the State”.
Not so progressive
In a statement given to The Beacon, PBP Galway said that the ruling pact parties are “propping up the same right-wing independent councillors who have dominated Galway City Council for years”. This is in spite of the fact that the parties claimed the pact would be “progress[ive] because it excluded Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael”.
PBP asserted that “there should be no place in local government” for Larkin given his comments in the past. It stated that Larkin
uses his position to punch down on groups of people who are already marginalised in society. Instead we have supposedly progressive parties and councillors appointing him as mayor.
Having taken note of an uptick in racism due to COVID-19, PBP believes that “giving an extra platform to someone who holds the views that Larkin holds is dangerous”.
And given this, it is hoping to create a “broad coalition of opposition” to Larkin’s installation as mayor.
This article and headline were updated on Thursday 14 May to clarify that Councillor Larkin has not yet been elected mayor, only that the ruling pact agreed upon makes it likely.
Featured image via Facebook