Limerick Mayor Stephen Keary says remarks 'did not accurately portray my sentiments'

Croagh-councillor says controversial comments described as “racist” were taken out of context

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

Limerick Mayor Stephen Keary says remarks 'did not accurately portray my sentiments'

Mayor Stephen Keary erected signs outside Croagh after his election Picture: Michael Cowhey

THE newly elected Mayor of Limerick Stephen Keary has said controversial comments described as “racist” were taken out of context.

The Croagh Fine Gael councillor attracted controversy ahead of his election after reports claimed he suggested non-nationals were coming to Ireland to live off the welfare system.

“Ireland is a home of the handouts,” he told a meeting of the Adare-Rathkeale district, a comment which saw a petition signed by thousands calling for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to veto his nomination as mayor.

However, in an interview with the Limerick Leader this week, Mayor Keary – the father-in-law of Junior Minister Patrick O’Donovan – said: “The [reports from the] Rathkeale meeting I think didn't contextually portray the sentiments I expressed. It was based around figures which were given to us at a recent housing SPC meeting where I asked a question around housing list figures. I was told the housing list was 6,000 and the number of people on the waiting list was 1,600 who were not Irish.

"I won't say anything else other than Not Irish. From that, I was making the statement that it was putting pressure on our housing authority to be able to find houses for everyone.”

The new mayor said he was sticking to the line that if he offended people he was sorry.

But asked if he apologised, or regretted making the remarks, he added: “I want to draw a line in the sand. What was said was said. I've done all I am going to do. I'm going to leave it at that. I want to move onto the rest of my year to do my mayoral duties as bet I can.”

Cllr Keary pointed out that living in Croagh places him geographically at the centre of Co Limerick. Following his election – securing 27 votes – he erected signs on the west-side of the village, wishing Limerick the “best of luck”.  

- See the Limerick Leader broadsheet for the full interview - in shops now