Saturday 24 February 2018

'He should apologise' - MEP Brian Hayes criticises fellow Fine Gael member's comments on Islam and refugees

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes Photo: Tom Burke
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

MEP Brian Hayes has offered an olive branch to a leading Islamic leader over controversial tweets about Irish Muslims by a fellow Fine Gael party member.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Councillor (DLCC) Brian Murphy caused outrage within the Muslim community in Ireland over the posts on his Twitter account earlier this month.

The 25-year-old accountant from Goatstown, south Dublin,  claimed that Sharia law – a complex set of strict Islamic religious, family  and criminal laws  – is operating in Ireland.

In a post on his Twitter account on September 5 he wrote:  "Sharia Law is operating in Ireland and most of the political class either do not know or do not care. It is a subversion of our legal system".

He  posted controversial tweets claiming that “Future generations of Europeans will inherit countries more divided, more dangerous and packed full of terrorists. They have been betrayed.”

He also claimed that the “majority of the media in the Western world” as well as politicians and “the artistic establishment” are cowards.

Mr Murphy did not respond to requests for a comment by Independent.ie.

Read More: 'We will take any necessary action' - Taoiseach distances himself from FG councillor's comments on Islam and refugees

Councillor Brian Murphy
Councillor Brian Murphy

However, his comments have led to calls for his expulsion from the party.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the comments do not reflect the party and are unacceptable.

The party’s executive is currently reviewing the matter but an outcome has yet to be determined, a party spokesperson said this afternoon.

However, the party’s executive for the DLRCC constituency passed a motion on Tuesday night “making it very clear that they condemn his remarks, disassociate themselves from the remarks and ask him not to say it again,” according to Mr Hayes.

He met with Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, head imam of the Islamic Centre of Ireland on Wednesday after the Islamic scholar said Mr Murphy’s comments were “appalling” and caused upset in the Muslim community.

He said: "I would like to say that I am very vocal against radicalisation and extremism in society so if there was any such Sharia law, I would be the first to speak out against it and raise the alarm. I really find it very appalling that he could speak like that."

While he said he was "shocked" that a representative of Fine Gael would make these comments he said he doesn't think the comments reflect Irish attitudes.

Read More: Fine Gael slam Dublin councillor's comments on social media as 'unacceptable'

But following the meeting with Mr Hayes, Dr Al-Qadri said he welcomes the Taoiseach’s remarks and that the party is looking into the matter.

“This is positive that a disassociation has been made,” he said.

“This politician must be given a warning. A very strong message must be sent. There is no appetite for such rhetoric and such political rhetoric will only fuel Islamophobia and racism and lead to radicalisation,” he said.

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri made the warning. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri made the warning. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Mr Hayes, meanwhile, said: “I hope he does apologise because he’s the person who made the remarks and not the party and the party feels very aggrieved about that.”

Asked if he thinks Mr Murphy should be expelled from the party, he said: “There’s a process involved within the party and I don’t want to prejudice that.”

“But I felt it was incumbent on me as the representative of the people of Dublin city and county where we have such a diverse population, that as an act of solidarity, I would speak today and make sure that Muslims know that his remarks don’t represent the Fine Gael party and reiterate what the Taoiseach has already said.”

“I think he should apologise. I hope he does and that matter will be dealt with by the party in the normal way,” he said.

Online Editors

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