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Lorraine Clifford-Lee criticised for 'racist comments' about Travellers

Martin Collins of Pavee Point has described comments by Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee as “not just inappropriate, they are racist.”

This type of comment leads to the exclusion of Travellers in Ireland and perpetuates the ongoing racial discrimination that Travellers face every day, he said.

Mr Collins told RTÉ radio’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show that Ms Clifford-Lee had telephoned Pavee Point and he hoped to return the call today with a view to meeting in person at the earliest possible opportunity.

He also called on Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to take action. “Do we want politicians in our national parliament to have such attitudes?”

Any aspiring politician that had such a view of the Traveller community was not fit for office, he said.

When it was pointed out that the comments, made in a series of tweets, were from 2011, Mr Collins said it was irrelevant if they had been made six months or eight years ago.

They were grossly offensive, there has to be some sort of accountability.

Mr Collins added that Ms Clifford-Lee had been a member of Fianna Fáil’s national executive in 2011 when the comments were made and had aspirations to be a TD. He said that Ms Clifford-Lee’s position as the party’s spokesperson on justice and equality was irreconcilable with her comments.

All the indications were that the Senator was likely to make an apology in person to Pavee Point this week, but that did not absolve the Fianna Fáil party from “these racist comments.”