Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has today apologised after uttering the 'N' word on the floor of the Dáil.
The utterance came as Ryan was discussing the lived reality of black people in Ireland and the shadow of racism in this country.
Here's what Ryan said:
"In the newspaper today there was a young Irishman Sean Gillane giving his experience of being othered. Of being from the age of six given that name - you n****r".
Watch the clip below.
The six letter word itself carries with it an extraordinary legacy of violence. In attempting to express solidarity with the struggles of non-white people, Ryan managed to convey an ignorance of the lived experience of hate.
The irony here is that Ryan, in his own mind at least, is a left-leaning politician of conscience. He was educated at Gonzaga and UCD. No doubt he has attended lectures and read articles about the outrageous inequalities that people of colour endure in this country and others. And yet by using the word in the Dáil, he proved how uneducated he is on the complexities of race. There has been much pontificating in the past two weeks about how Ireland does not practice the same racism of other countries, but Ryan's well-intentioned mistake proves how far he and so many of us have to go before we as a nation can claim to be 'anti-racist'.
Shortly after, he tweeted an apology saying:
I made a speech in the Dáil today about the scourge of racism in our society. In quoting from an article I read this morning, I repeated a racial slur, and I was completely wrong to do so. I want to apologise for any hurt caused. I know this particular word should never be used
Ryan was widely condemned for his use of the word, especially from people in his own party. Green Party councillor Daniel Whooley issued a statement that was highly critical of his leader, saying the use of the word was 'disgusting'.
Councillour Peter Kavanagh was also critical of his party leader, saying 'we must all do better'.
— Cllr. Peter Kavanagh (@TheKavOfficial) June 11, 2020
The apology comes as the Greens engage in never-ending government coalition talks with Ireland's centre-right duopoly Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, and many left-leaning members of the Greens thinking long and hard about the merits of Ryan's leadership.
We'll give the final word to Ryan's Green Party colleague from Mayo.
Just don’t say it
— Saoirse McHugh (@saoirse_mchugh) June 11, 2020
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