Friday 6 December 2019

The Floating Voter: 'I was told I'd be shot by the big boys over sulky racing regulation proposal' - Mattie McGrath

Mattie McGrath Photo: Tom Burke
Mattie McGrath Photo: Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

INDEPENDENT TD Mattie McGrath has revealed he received a death threat after he proposed legislation which would regulate sulky racing.

Mr McGrath said he was approached by an individual in his hometown of Clonmel, Tipperary and told he would be shot in Dublin over his plans to regulate the horse racing activity which is popular among the Travelling community.

Speaking on the Floating Voter podcast, Mr McGrath said: “I was threatened on April 10, 2017 that I would be shot in Dublin for trying to stop the fun with this regulation.”

“I was surrounded by four individuals in Clonmel outside a shop. I made a statement to gardai and so did my daughter who was in the car with me and they told me I would be shot in Dublin, by the big boys in Dublin,” he added.

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The Tipperary TD said sulky racing is a “huge problem” in Clonmel where he claims “three and four year olds” are sometimes seen “hanging off” off horse drawn carts.

“They block up roads four abreast and terrorise people going home from work and everybody is afraid of their life of them,” he said

“You can’t say boo or you’re a racist (and) that’s the problem in this country, you can’t criticise them because they have ethnic status which I opposed,” he added.

Mr McGrath insisted he was “not a racist” and added that some of his “best friends” are travellers.

Separately, he defended comments about Nigerians living in Ireland made by Independent TD Noel Grealish in the Dail.

“I ain’t no racist and if you can't ask a question in the Dail it’s very sad,” Mr McGrath said.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has asked Mr Grealish to clarify claims that €3.4bn had been sent to Nigeria in eight years.

Mr Donohoe said the Galway West TD was given Central Statistic Office (CSO) figures which showed around €17m a year is sent to Nigeria before he made his controversial comments.

“The Taoiseach provided you with figures from the Central Statistics Office, in a Parliamentary Question reply dated 22 October 2019 and there are procedures in place to allow you to challenge these figures if you consider that they were misleading,” Mr Donohoe wrote.

“I am disappointed with the apparent ethnic basis of your statements and would welcome any steps that you would be willing to take to clarify on this aspect. It is inappropriate to single out one country in absence of evidence of wrong-doing,” he added.

On this podcast, Mr McGrath produced what he claimed was a document from the Irish Refugee Council which he said supported Mr Grealish's comments. The Irish Refugee Council told Independent.ie the document was not from their organisation but said they have used some of the statistics before. The council also said there was a lot of “spin” in the document.

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