A protest has been organised to demand that Galway councillors don’t elect Noel Larkin as the city’s next mayor. The councillor and former mayor has caused controversy because of his statements about migrants and members of the Traveller community. Larkin is due to be elected mayor during Galway city council’s AGM on Friday, 26 June.
People Before Profit (PBP) Galway has said it believes that “Galway deserves better”.
Protesting the Pact
Larkin is expected to become Galway’s new mayor as a result of a ruling pact between the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats, and a number of other independent councillors.
But PBP Galway has organised a demonstration to be held at 3pm outside the AGM to protest the appointment. A petition set up by the group has also attracted over 1,400 signatories, at the time of writing, who don’t want Larkin as mayor.
“Galway deserves better”
PBP Galway drew attention to the pact in a statement on its Facebook page in May. It asked if the members of the parties involved can “really stand over” the move given that Larkin “has regularly expressed racist views”.
Speaking to The Beacon, a spokesperson for PBP Galway accused Larkin of making “disgusting classist and racist statements”. What’s more, they pointed out that he has “repeatedly attacked and scapegoated the Mincéir/Traveller community and opposed their right to housing”.
And given this, they asserted that “Galway deserves better”.
The spokesperson also said “It is hard to believe” that councillors are willing to vote for Larkin given his history. Instead, referring to members of the voting pact, they told The Beacon:
We implore them to break from the pact and vote with their conscience.
The councillor and former mayor has a history of discriminatory and racist comments. In 2018 he accused migrants of “blatant misuse” of Ireland’s social welfare system. During the same interview he also argued that the government was welcoming people into the country who have “no intention of making a contribution to the State”.
In April this year he referred to a group of people involved in a fight as acting like members of a “Zulu tribe”. Larkin told Galway Bay FM that:
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 maintained that they are “given every opportunity to be housed and integrated into society”. But instead he insisted that they “choose to reject” this.
The councillor also took the step of demanding that the Traveller community “apologise to the settled community for branding them all as racists”.
Earlier this month the councillor contended that Galway city council should be given extra powers to deal with anti-social behaviour. Larkin opined that:
Councils should be given the power to evict tenants – without court appearances and without having to supply alternative accommodation.
PBP Galway described his comment as “outrageous” given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featured image via Facebook