- 29 Sep 22
Councillor Crowe's comments on the Galway Bay FM station have resulted in accusations of anti-Traveller rhetoric, with an apology made this afternoon by the Fianna Fáil politician. "We need to do everything possible to support them in the challenges that they face," Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated today.
Councillor Michael Crowe of the Fianna Fáil party was accused of spreading anti-Traveller rhetoric after speaking to Galway Bay FM on Monday, September 26th. The Galway Traveller Movement (GTM) called for his suspension and a full investigation into the Galway City Council and the Fianna Fáil party following the remarks, which Crowe today apologised to the Traveller community for. Taoiseach Micheál Martin also released a statement on the incident.
Cllr Crowe spoke out about two properties in Renmore which have been recently acquired by the local authority. After being told by officials that there are plans to allocate one of the properties to a Traveller family, he has raised concerns.
He stated how he feels that the residents have had this "foisted on the community without consultation" unfairly. He said he is opposed to having "vastly different cultures" present in the neighbourhood and believes that local residents agree with him. Cllr Crowe called on Galway City Council to reconsider the use for the property.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the comments were “unacceptable”, and that the party would be meeting with the councillor.
“They’re not in line at all with Fianna Fáil policy, and the party will be meeting with the councillor,” Mr Martin added. “We’ll be engaging with the councillor concerned because those remarks are completely unacceptable. We will take it from there. I don’t want to prejudice what outcome may transpire. We are taking the issue seriously, very seriously, and we will engage with the councillor. I’ve seen the reported comments, but obviously due process follows in this case and the party will engage with the councillor.
“There can be no tolerance for such an approach to the Traveller community," the Taoiseach added. "I’ve met with them recently – they are facing enormous challenges, particularly young people, young Travellers in particular in terms of securing employment, in terms of education completion. We need to do everything possible to support them in the challenges that they face.”
GTM called Crowe's comments a "direct violation of Travellers' Human Rights" which has " brought us back decades in the fight for equality." They've also stated that comments like these would not be tolerated were they directed toward another ethnic group. "Cll Michael Crowe showed little regard for the Traveller community and made statements that in our opinion incite hatred and deny the Traveller community access to adequate protection against discrimination in Irish Society," their statement continues.
Councillor Crowe posted his apology on Twitter shortly after Mr Martin’s comments.
“I would like to offer a sincere genuine apology to all members of the Travelling community for my comments earlier this week,” he said.
“There is cut and thrust in politics but there is no room for the broad ranging sweeping generalisations I made about Travellers. For that, I am sorry. While there are difficulties in certain scenarios there is a way to deal with those and on this occasion I did not do so in a correct manner. I would also like to offer an apology to (Fianna Fáil) for causing hurt to many of our members.
“I’m making no excuses, I’m simply apologising. I was wrong.”
I would like to offer a sincere genuine apology to all members of the Travelling Community for my comments earlier this week. There is cut and thrust in politics but there is no room for the broad ranging sweeping generalisations I made about Travellers. For that, I am sorry. 1/3
— MJ Crowe (@mike_mjcrowe) September 29, 2022
Cllr Crowe's comments have sparked outrage from the Traveller community and their allies, with one user tweeting, "When will our government create a set of standards for their elected representatives? When will the anti-Traveller racism and hatred end?"
GTM stands in Solidarity with the Traveller community following recent anti-Traveller comments made by Cllr Michael Crowe on Galway Bay Fm. We have decided not to engage with local radio at this time as there is no protection given to the community from further negative comments pic.twitter.com/BaXZwLPNRi
— Galway Traveller Movement (@gtmtrav) September 28, 2022
When will our government create a set of standards for their elected representatives? When will the anti-Traveller racism and hatred end?
To all @fiannafailparty members, is this how you want to be portrayed? Is this what you want to be associated with?
Fair play @GalwayCityCo
— Martin (Beanz) Warde (@martinbeanz) September 27, 2022
Back in 2013, a similar event occurred when Councillor Sean McEniff objected to a house being built for a Traveller family in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal. He argued that Travellers should be isolated from the settled community. Shortly after his comments, the house was destroyed in an alleged arson attack.
More recently, in 2020 a property in Kitullagh owned by Galway City Council meant for a Traveller family was destroyed in a fire- also suspected arson.
The National Traveller Mental Health Network is a space where Travellers can receive specific inclusive counselling that is culturally appropriate.