Mayor describes 'rainbow housing' at university as 'a bit daft'
A mayor has criticised so-called 'rainbow housing' at a leading university as an "over-the-top retrograde step".
Earlier this month, the University of Limerick (UL) unveiled plans to provide on-campus accommodation exclusively for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or intersex (LGBTQ).
The accommodation would also be open to 'allies' of the LGBTQ community. But Clare Mayor Cathal Crowe, a graduate of the university himself, said he believes the idea is "a bit daft".
"I'm big on inclusion and equality, but I think this idea from UL is a bit daft when almost all students of the college are struggling to find affordable accommodation. On top of that, it's hugely segregationist. Why put LGBT students into separate accommodation?" he said.
On a recent post to his Facebook page, the Fianna Fáil councillor and schoolteacher added: "It's 15 years since I graduated from UL and I considered it to be an open and tolerant campus. This entire idea seems a bit OTT (over the top) and retrograde."
However, Limerick LGBT activist Richard Lynch said: "Everyone has an opinion about these things, and if you're not an LGBT person, you probably do not understand the need for rainbow housing.
"He is not a gay person. He is entitled to his opinion, but I think the people who put this together found a use for it, and I'd trust they would have done their research, seen the need and tried to fulfil that need."
"I don't see what the issue is."
Mr Crowe said he feared segregating students might be counter-productive in fostering a spirit of inclusion.
The vice-president of academic affairs at UL Student Life, Colin Lynch, said that rainbow housing was designed to provide a safe space for students in need of additional support, and hundreds of applications had been received.
"It's going to be fantastic seeing UL progress and move with the times," he said.
"UL is a great place for inclusion, but if we are to say Ireland as a whole, Limerick as a whole of the country, that homophobia, transphobia and biphobia doesn't exist, we are fooling ourselves."