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Saturday 3 December 2016

Former soccer club director denies making racist remarks

Published 31/03/2016 | 02:30

A former director of Galway United Football Club has been accused of racism after posting comments online saying he didn't feel safe around Muslims.

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Mike Buckley, who sat on the board of the popular League of Ireland club, resigned earlier this week. However, he says his departure had been "planned for months" and had nothing to do with "one line of a great post."

The post in question was made a number of days after a series of terror attacks rocked Brussels killing 37 people.

"How do you reform a suicide bomber?" he asked in the post. "Of the 452 suicide attacks alone last year 450 were confirmed as being Muslim. So potentially the nice guy or girl standing beside you or your relations in an airport, cinema or tube station are primed to go off," he continued. "I am calm and rational, but as of now I don't feel safe near any Muslim. Can anyone blame me?"

Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, Mr Buckley said he was not "anti-Muslim or racist", stating that he was "anti- suicide", informing listeners that he had set up an anti- suicide charity in Galway.

"I respect all Muslims and everything like that. It is anti- suicide I am. I am the chairman of Onwards and Upwards, which I set up to help our epidemic. It is anti-suicide I am more than anything else. They were my opinions, not the board of Galway United," he stressed.

"I put it up after Brussels I was just frustrated with all the suicides in the world."

Mr Buckley added that he stood by his views regarding his personal safety when in the company of Muslims.

"I stand by what I have said in view of what has happened recently to all those poor people in Brussels and all over the world with suicides. I would feel unsafe sitting beside a Muslim at that particular time. I would just have fear. If someone looked like a perceived Muslim to me - and that would be dark skin, a goatee beard and look shifty - the type of stereotype that is posted up on sites all over the world. I am not anti-racist or anything. I am purely anti-terrorist. I am totally not racist."

The post, which has since been removed, was brought to the attention of the public by Garrett Mullan, director of equality group Show Racism the Red Card.

Mr Buckley said the group is "making a mountain" out of his comments, but Mr Mullan said they had upset fans, including a large number of minorities who were supporters of the club.

A statement from Galway United said the views "do not reflect in any way" the position of the club or its board of directors. Attempts to contact Mr Buckley were unsuccessful. President Michael D Higgins once served as president of the club.

Irish Independent

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