A FORMER director of Galway United has triggered a racism row after posting comments on social media suggesting that he didn’t 'feel safe' around Muslims.
Mike Buckley – who was on the board of the League of Ireland soccer team – made the controversial remarks on Facebook several days after the Brussels attacks on Tuesday, March 22 that killed 32 people.
He resigned from the club earlier this week but said that his departure had been planned for months, according to the Irish Independent.
In the post he said:
How do you reform a suicide bomber?
Of the 452 suicide attacks alone last year 450 were confirmed as being Muslim. So potentially the nice guy or girl standing beside you or your relations in an airport, cinema or tube station are primed to go off.
I am calm and rational, but as of now I don't feel safe near any Muslim. Can anyone blame me?
Speaking on RTÉ radio on Wednesday, Mr Buckley said he was not anti-Muslim or racist.
He explained that he had set up an anti-suicide charity in Galway.
"I respect all Muslims and everything like that. It is anti-suicide I am. I am the chairman of Onwards and Upwards, which I set up to help [relieve] our epidemic. It is anti-suicide I am more than anything else. They were my opinions, not the board of Galway United.
"I put it [the post] up after Brussels I was just frustrated with all the suicides in the world."
His comments were criticised by Joe Loughnane from Galway Anti-Racism Network who labelled them ‘Islamophobic’ and ‘racist’.
“He was trying to connect ordinary Muslims to the attacks that happened in Brussels,” Mr Loughnane said. “He was generalising them.”
Mr Buckley added that he stood by his views regarding Muslims.
"I stand by what I have said in view of what has happened recently to all those poor people in Brussels and all over the world with suicides,” he said.
“I would feel unsafe sitting beside a Muslim at that particular time. I would just have fear. If someone looked like a perceived Muslim to me - and that would be dark skin, a goatee beard and look shifty - the type of stereotype that is posted up on sites all over the world. I am not anti-racist or anything. I am purely anti-terrorist. I am totally not racist."
Galway United Football Club released a statement in response to Mr Buckley's comments.
[The club] wishes to reaffirm its Anti Racism policy. The club fully supports the ‘Show Racism The Red Card’ campaign and promotes that message at all its matches in Eamonn Deacy Park.
In recent days, a former director of the club posted a message on his personal social media page which has been the subject of considerable comment. These views do not reflect in any way the position of Galway United Football Club and its Board of Directors. We appreciate and encourage the support of Galwegians and all sportspeople and thank them for their loyalty.
The post – which has now been removed – sparked a flurry of reaction on social media.
Here are some of the Twitter comments:
How did Mike get on the board of Galway united in the first place ? #liveline
— Ken Mc Fadden (@unspeakable28) March 30, 2016
Mike Buckley on the board of directors at Galway Utd. doesn't "feel safe near any muslim". Stay home on the couch... https://t.co/Dt3YxSv84a
— rabble (@wearerabble) March 30, 2016
I don't feel safe sitting beside a Muslim? In that case I don't feel safe beside an Irishman due to the IRA sure. #liveline
— Daithi O'Laoghaire (@Cunionsandphey) March 30, 2016
That Galway United board member isn't the brightest button in the box #liveline
— James Lowe (@SantryHoop) March 30, 2016