'I should have been more careful in my use of language': Lord Mayor responds to controversy surrounding 'all lives matter' comment

'I should have been more careful in my use of language': Lord Mayor responds to controversy surrounding 'all lives matter' comment

"I made a spontaneous contribution to the conference that I now understand may have caused offence and disappointment," Lord Mayor Cllr Joe Kavanagh said.

The Lord Mayor of Cork has said he “should have been more careful in [his] use of language” following an “all lives matter” remark he made at an online event for Fredrick Douglass week on Thursday.

“As Lord Mayor of Cork, I have been delighted and honoured to take part in the online Douglass Week programme which is commemorating Frederick Douglass’s journey and visit to this country in the 19th century,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“[On Thursday evening] during one such event, I made a spontaneous contribution to the conference that I now understand may have caused offence and disappointment. I regret that I should have been more careful in my use of language and I fully acknowledged this at the conclusion of [Thursday’s] session.

“[On Friday] morning, I contacted my fellow panellist, Dr Naomi Masheti, to again make these feelings known and to assure her of my belief that solidarity must be the foundation of our communities,” he said.

“For me personally, Douglass Week has served to deepen my understanding of the social and racial justice campaigns that underpin the Black Lives Matter movement and I was delighted to benefit from the week in this way,” he concluded.

Speaking during the online event on Thursday Mr Kavanagh also moved to clarify his comments, stating: “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.” 

Cork City Solidarity Councillor Fiona Ryan, however, condemned his use of the “all lives matter” phrase.

highlighted the use of the “all lives matter” phrase to counter the movement against systemic racism.

“It is because of movements like Black Lives Matter that great events like Douglass Week have received broad support in the first place.

“By saying ‘all lives matter’, the Lord Mayor is proving just how out of touch he and the political establishment he is a member of doesn't understand what the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting for,” Ms Ryan said.

“In a diverse and multicultural city such as Cork, the Lord Mayors comments are an embarrassment,” she added.

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