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Outrage after O'Leary comments on bombers 'of Muslim persuasion'

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Michael O'Leary. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Michael O'Leary. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Michael O'Leary. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has flown into the eye of a storm over his claims that bomber passengers "will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion".

The Dublin City Interfaith Forum (DCIF) was among those who condemned the controversial comments over the weekend.

It called on all public people "with an audience for their words and statements to moderate their language" and to be mindful of the harm they can do with "careless" comments.

Adrian Cristea, a spokesperson for the group, told the Herald yesterday the forum comprises a broad network of leaders and representatives of different faith communities, including Muslims from different mosques around the city.

He said the forum had decided to issue a statement because they felt it was important to do so in the light of one group being "very clearly" singled out.

The statement urged Mr O'Leary to reflect and learn from the incident, and make some kind of "real gesture" to indicate he has learned from his speech.

"The words that we say sometimes can hurt people," said Mr Cristea.

He said the forum's statement had gone up on social media and had reached hundreds of people.

They wanted to highlight the importance of paying attention to what we say, and how we say it. The controversy took off on Saturday when Mr O'Leary gave an interview to a newspaper in which he was discussing airport security measures.

When asked what the government should do, he said he would profile passengers.

"Who are the bombers? They are going to be single males travelling on their own.

"If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is f***ing zero.

"You can't say stuff because it's racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago, it was the Irish.

Denied

"If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat."

Front-page comments by Mr O'Leary were published under the headline: 'Airline boss wants extra checks on Muslim men.'

However, this was strongly denied by Ryanair, and the company issued a statement that said: "The headline in yesterday's paper is simply inaccurate.

"No call for extra checks on any group or persons was made.

"Michael was only calling for more effective airport security checks which would do away with much of the unnecessary queues at airport security today for all passengers."

He apologised sincerely for any offence caused to any group by the "inaccurate headline".

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "Comments such as those reported would reflect a simplistic, even lazy view of international affairs to which I don't subscribe."

Meanwhile, the head imam of the Islamic Centre of Ireland, Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, said Mr O'Leary's comments were "very irresponsible" in the current climate.

Separately, in the same interview, Mr O'Leary described most airport security as "utterly useless".

He said that "it is only designed so that politicians can convey the impression that they are doing something".


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