A Sinn Fein councillor has challenged former Craigavon Mayor Alan Carson to “make a full public apology to Muslims living in Craigavon” after remarks he made during a debate on Monday night. However the DUP man insists that Councillor Johnny McGibbon is “simply scoring political points from a genuine mistake I made and for which I apologised immediately”.
In the heat of the exchange, Mr Carson stated that Muslims were “causing bother in the Middle East”. He said that the British Army represented all sides, “Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Jew, Muslim whatever – well, maybe not Muslim”. Afterwards he said, “I realised immediately that I’d put my foot in it and apologised without reserve. But that wasn’t enough for Councillor McGibbon who saw fit to issue a press statement, accusing me of all sorts and inferring I am racist, which I certainly am not.”
The McGibbon statement claimed, “These remarks reveal the mind set that has prevented unionists from developing a realistic political programme for the future. To make insinuations against any section of the community is outrageous and unacceptable. Only a very arrogant or politically immature individual would presume to deny to others the right to voice alternative views.
“We must all accept differing points of view, but we should never allow any section of our society to be isolated or labelled during debate. Given that Councillor Carson was a recent Mayor of Craigavon, it is reasonable to assume that he understands this fundamental principle. The least therefore that can be done to make amends is a full public apology to the citizens of Craigavon and in particular our sizeable Muslim community.”