Irishman vying to succeed Bob Crow claims he was target of racist smear campaign

Irishman vying to succeed Bob Crow claims he was target of racist smear campaign

AN IRISHMAN bidding to lead Britain’s transport union is to raise allegations of an anti-Irish smear campaign against him with his union.

Steve Hedley took to Facebook earlier this week to complain of racist abuse he has suffered, claiming he has been labelled a “Fenian b******” and accused of being a paramilitary just because he is Irish.

The Derry man told The Irish Post that he believed this was part of a “dirty tricks campaign” being carried out by “small sects” set against him becoming general secretary of the RMT.

“People have been cracking Irish jokes, I have been called a Fenian b******, and people have been putting it around that I am in the IRA and not to vote for me because I am a Provo,” he said.

“I am really shaken up by it and I am quite flabbergasted.”

Mr Hedley, currently the RMT’S assistant general secretary, claimed the jokes included people saying “that is a bit Irish isn’t it?” or “are you doing that the Irish way?” if he makes an error.

He added: “I have been a member of the RMT for 26 years and when I stood for assistant general secretary there was none of this.

“But now people are obviously using it because I am standing for the general secretary position.”

Mr Hedley, who is one of five men vying to replace the late Bob Crow at the helm of the RMT, said he could not provide evidence of the abuse because it had been verbal.

He also refused to name the perpetrators, saying only that they include “senior trade union figures” who “would be the first to condemn racism elsewhere, but don’t mind indulging in a bit of anti-Irish racism”.

Mr Hedley added that he is going to raise his allegations with other senior RMT members and is considering making a formal complaint to the union.

The RMT told The Irish Post that it takes allegations of racism “extremely seriously”.

“Any formal complaints that are made are investigated and dealt with through an agreed process,” a spokesperson added.

“The union does not make any comment while investigations and procedures are being followed.”

Mr Hedley and four others are currently trying to drum up support from regional RMT branches before the union’s next general secretary is elected in September.

The other candidates are acting general secretary, Mick Cash, former union president Alex Gordon, the RMT’s national organising coordinator, Alan Pottage and RMT member John Leach.