A TORY councillor has been suspended after a tweet about Ireland and the Travelling community caused outrage on social media.
During Saturday night’s Eurovision Song Contest, a tweet from the account of Councillor Nick Harrington, who represents the Stoneleigh and Cubbington ward on Warwick District Council, said: “#Eurovision2017 thanks Ireland. You can keep your f’king gypsies! Hard border coming folks!”
The tweet appeared to be in response to Ireland’s jury not awarding the UK any points in the contest, the theme of which this year was ‘celebrating diversity’.
The tweet also appeared to advocate a hard border between Ireland and the North in the Brexit negotiations, which could threaten the peace process in Northern Ireland.
The tweet was still visible on Sunday morning before Cllr Harrington’s account later disappeared from the social networking site.
The Conservative leader of Warwick District Council, Andrew Mobbs, confirmed to The Irish Post that Cllr Harrington had been suspended from both the council's party group and the Conservative Party itself.
"I confirm that Cllr Harrington has been suspended from both the group at Warwick District Council and the Conservative Party," said Cllr Mobbs.
"An investigation will now take place.”
Warwickshire Police meanwhile revealed: “We have received a complaint regarding a tweet made by a man from Warwickshire. Police are investigating, enquiries are ongoing.”
Yvonne MacNamara, the Chief Executive of the Traveller Movement charity, described the councillor's comments as 'disgracful'.
“The comments by the Conservative councillor Nick Harrington are nothing short of disgraceful. We will push to ensure he receives the strongest possible penalties for his actions," she said.
"During elections, it is sadly not uncommon for comments such as these to appear on social media and even in the local press.
"That is why we are running a campaign called Operation Traveller Vote, to challenge derogatory comments and to encourage Gypsies, Travellers and Roma to vote and have their voices heard.
"We would encourage as many people as possible to submit complaints about the tweet to the Conservative Party.”
As the fallout from the tweet continued, British Olympian Christine Ohuruogu tweeted screengrabs on Sunday, allegedly from Cllr Harrington’s personal Facebook account, in which he compared a black scarecrow dressed as an athlete to the Beijing 2008 gold medallist.
— Christine Ohuruogu (@chrissyohuruogu) May 14, 2017
Reaction to the tweet from Cllr Harrington's account
I know Nick Harrington's disparaging remark about Gypsies was pathetic but his reprehensible glee about a hard NI border is what gets me.
— Mike Hind - saboteur (@MikeH_PR) May 14, 2017
— Yvonne D (@yvylovy) May 14, 2017
In case anyone forgot how much respect Tory politicians have for the Irish people, here's a little reminder from Nick Harrington https://t.co/OENzFdl8PD
— Andrew O'Connor (@HesTheSportsguy) May 14, 2017
— Jo Wale (@CedricWale) May 14, 2017
— Biggles The Saboteur (@Bi99le5) May 14, 2017
Warwick Tory Cllr Nick Harrington tweets offensive comment about gypsies and a 'hard border' because Ireland gave UK no points at Eurovision pic.twitter.com/P29yIpdVK7
— Scott Nelson (@SocialistVoice) May 14, 2017