The SDLP has removed the party whip from councillor Jimmy Carr following controversial remarks he made about a fellow member of Derry City Council.
Colr. Carr created controversy last week when he said that subtitles are needed when Scottish-born Sinn Féin councillor Eric McGinley speaks.
The SDLP councillor made the remarks on a social networking site following a debate at the monthly meeting of Derry City Council during a debate to award £45,0000 to the Bogside Artists for the restoration of their murals.
Colr. Carr then repeated his comments to the ‘Journal,’ and again on local radio and intially said he would not be withdrawing the remarks. However, the SDLP press office then issued an unreserved apology for the comments, describing them as “rash.” Colr. Carr also said he would be apologising personally to colr. McGinley, which it is believed has yet to take place.
The SDLP said that it would carry out an internal investigation into the matter. A party spokesperson said yesterday that the party whip had been removed from the controversial councillor and that he would also lose his position as chair of Derry City Council’s environmental services committee.
“Councillor Carr made a full and frank apology for rash and insensitive comments he made in the media as well as Derry City Council Chamber last week. He is deeply sorry for allowing his genuine frustration about an issue of civic principle to cause him to act in a manner which is unbecoming of himself and the party.
“As a result the party have taken swift action in respect of comments which run contrary to the SDLP ethic of inclusion and respect for diversity. Councillor Carr will lose the chair of the Environmental Services Committee and the Party whip for a period of time.
“We believe this is an appropriate sanction to take and want to draw a line under this issue and allow our party representatives on Derry City Council to get on with working hard for all the people of the city,” a spokesperson said.
Sinn Féin Group Leader on Derry City Council Councillor Paul Fleming reiterated his party’s position in untenable. “Our party stance remains the same, Councillor Carr’s position as a public representative is untenable. If these remarks had been directed at a member of the Polish, Portuguese or any other nationality there would rightly be a hue and cry from all sections of society. The fact that Eric is Scottish and a Sinn Féin representative does not diminish the seriousness of these remarks,” he said.