SINN Fein has called for a ‘racist’ SDLP Derry City councillor to resign – even after he issued an apology over a “subtitles needed” comment on the Scottish accent of a fellow council member.
Jimmy Carr made the remarks on Facebook after a council debate which involved Sinn Fein’s Eric McGinley, referring to him as a Scotch (sic) man whom he could not understand.
The debate concerned the awarding of a grant to the Bogside Artists, with Sinn Fein favouring a total of £45,000, but SDLP calling for £200,000.
Afterwards, Mr Carr posted a comment on the Bogside Artists Facebook page: “Jimmy Carr. The history of Derry according to Sinn Fein. And what makes it all the more sickening is the shinner who put forward the proposal to block is a Scotch man! Subtitles needed!”
In a radio interview afterwards, he defended his stance, claiming it was a matter-of-fact: “All I said was the I didn’t understand the man – Sinn Fein are getting their knickers in a twist” – but he later issued “an unreserved apology” to Mr McGinley.
He said: “I regret that I did not take the opportunity to retract the words I used in Facebook. It is now clear that my attempt to justify or explain the context of the original sentiment has only reinforced people’s misgivings.”
Mr Carr added: “I respect the valuable contribution that many people who are originally from outside Derry make in so many ways to the life of this city.
“I should not have allowed any frustration in the council chamber or in the media to come over as prejudiced or insensitive in any way.”
However, the apology has cut little ice with Sinn Fein who refused to put Mr McGinley up for interview, but who commented through the Derry City Council Sinn Fein group leader Paul Fleming, who said the comments were “totally unacceptable”.
“What message does this send out to Scotland when Derry is trying to promote itself as the City of Culture?” he said. “The comments are racist and we call for Jimmy Carr to resign.”