A Cork city councillor has condemned an “all lives matter” remark made by Lord Mayor Councillor Joe Kavanagh at an event for Fredrick Douglass week yesterday, saying they are “an embarrassment”.
When asked to clarify his comments during the online live stream on Hot Press magazine’s Facebook page, Mr Kavanagh said that he was “a bit surprised, and taken aback and disappointed” by the reaction to his comment.
He further explained: “In my eyes everybody is equal, and that’s my message.
“I have nothing but the highest regard for, and respect for, the contribution...Cork Migrant Centre have made to the fabric of society in Cork city.
“Everybody matters in my eyes and I don’t make distinctions between one grouping and another, and that’s the point I was trying to make. Maybe I didn’t make it very well, but it’s not like I have any agenda against Black Lives Matter or any lives matter.
“In my eyes, equality comes first and I try to show equal respect to everybody.
“I meant absolutely nothing by it. It was just picked up incorrectly.”
He also said there was a big difference “between what’s going on in America and what is going on in Cork. You couldn’t possibly compare the two.”
However, Solidarity Councillor Fiona Ryan highlighted the use of the “all lives matter” phrase to counter the movement against systemic racism.
"The Lord Mayor disgraced himself by opposing the rallying cry of a global movement leading the fight against racial injustice as it expresses itself in the 21st century.
“Anyone who doesn't support the Black Lives Matter movement has no right in trying to identify with the great anti-racist and abolitionist Frederick Douglass,” Ms Ryan said.
“It is because of movements like Black Lives Matter that great events like Douglass Week have received broad support in the first place.
“In a diverse and multicultural city such as Cork, the Lord Mayor's comments are an embarrassment,” she added.
"I wish the organisers and participants of Douglass Week great success going forward and encourage everyone to take a look at the remaining events up until February 14 celebrating his journey and his visit in Ireland and Cork in the 19th century,” Ms Ryan concluded.
The Lord Mayor has been contacted for comment.