Thursday 14 November 2019

'I think he’s going about it wrong' - Irish musicians referred to as 'minor gangsters' respond to apology from British MP Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart. Picture: PA
Rory Stewart. Picture: PA
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

One of the three men British MP Rory Stewart referred to as “minor gangsters” has responded to the politician’s apology.

The men, who are members of Dublin rap group Hare Squead, were met by the politician while walking along Brick Lane, East London while he was filming a campaign walk in June.

After Stewart informed the men that he is a politician, one of the men said, “I don’t f*ck with politics, man” before the trio walked away while making hand gestures at the camera.

Stewart later shared the interaction on Twitter with the caption: “you can’t win ’em all”.

At an event on Wednesday, Stewart referenced how social media has enabled people to “see politicians listening”, before referring to the trio as “minor gangsters”.

He said: “One thing about social media is that it allows people to see politicians listening ... I can go to Brick Lane and three sort of minor gangsters can come up to me and spend a minute telling me I’m an idiot.

“And I can film it on my phone and put it up. And people love watching people being rude to politicians.”

The comment has received backlash online, with MP Diane Abbott calling the remark racist.

In response to a series of tweets calling for him to apologise, Stewart explained: “I hope anyone who has watched the video will understand I was describing a light-hearted encounter in which some men were - completely understandably- gently mocking me.

“I was trying to describe the incident to an audience that hadn’t seen the video in order to poke fun at myself as a politician in an awkward encounter. I am really sorry for causing offence. Thank you also to @DavidLammy for raising this too. I am really sorry.”

One of the men, Lilo Blues, told Independent.ie that while Stewart posted the apology on Twitter, he has not yet directly apologised to any of the group.

“I just saw that he wrote an apology, but he never even wrote directly to us, he just wrote it somewhere on his Twitter and even if you go on his Twitter you can’t see on his actual timeline, you actually have to go look through his tweets and replies and then see it,” Lilo said.

“We were minding our own business, he came to us with the camera. We weren’t looking for anything, we were just going to get some food,” he added.

“The video is there, no one called him an idiot. If anything, as soon as he said he’s a politician, Tony (Konstone) was like, ‘ah I don’t really f*ck with politics man’, and I was just automatically like it’s nice to meet you but we’re going to get some food.

“We’re pretty humorous the way we go about things, we were just messing doing fake gang signs.”

He continued: “That was pretty much it, we didn’t think anything of it. Then the video got viral somehow, everyone thought it was funny, whatever. We didn’t even know who he was, we just looked him up after and we saw that he's actually a politician.”

“You can’t really justify why he said it, or make ourselves seem like we were disrespecting him because we we’re like, that’s cool.

“He seems to be holding on to the idea of us disrespecting him, which really isn’t the case. To be honest, I couldn’t really care.

“I think he’s going about it wrong,” he said. 

When asked if he thinks the MP can learn anything from their interaction, Blues suggested that he takes “another route to Nando’s”.

“He needs to stop walking through Brick Lane, take another route to Nando’s or something, I don’t know. I really don’t know.

“He was just trying to give his campaign a bit of sauce or something, something juicy but it just backfired on him, God love him,” Lilo added.

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