Dublin by-election candidate Hall explains alleged 'racist' remark

David Hall

By-election candidate David Hall has admitted he made a "completely inappropriate and embarrassing" comment after allegations emerged of a racist remark while playing cards with friends.

In an interview with Niall Boylan on Classic Hits 4FM today, Dublin West candidate David Hall said the 30-second video (of which he has seen five seconds) shows him playing cards and being asked to repeat a line of "banter" in which he said: "Every house should have one", referring to "a black".

He said he made the remark in reply to a Sri-Lankan friend of his who said that every home should have a fat, bald, Irish man.

"It was in the context of me having banter with a friend....It was completely inappropriate. It was an embarrassing remark to have made, and there was never any racist intent."

He offered his apologies "to anyone who may take offence from it".

The incident took place in 2007.

Mr Hall said said he was approached by two people seeking €10,000 to buy the clip, or they would sell it to the media. He referred the matter to the gardaí before it was covered in yesterday's Sunday World.

Transcript of the full interview, courtesy of Classic Hits 4FM:

Niall Boylan: Can we clarify what the video is about?

David Hall : The video is a 30-second video. I haven’t seen the video…I saw five seconds in my driveway when I was door-stepped by the Sunday World...When you press play it has a gentleman playing cards with me, interrupting me having banter with a friend of mine, asking me to repeat a specific sentence and that specific sentence...is when I said ‘every house should have one’ it was me referring to me saying every house should have a black. It was in the context of me having banter with a friend.

NB: Were you actually referring to that cliché that every home should have one, referring to black people?

No, I was replying to a Sri-Lankan friend of mine, Eddie, who said that every man home should have a fat, bald, Irish man. So, in the context, the comments that I made were completely inappropriate and maybe... banter among friends... some people will say...we all do it.

NB:Enda Kenny made some comments years ago and used the ‘N’ words, didn’t he?

DH: Oh absolutely, many people have. The comments were completely inappropriate in the context of banter among friends. This is a guy I’ve known for ten years, I’ve done business with him, we’d be joking, exchanging things, he would have many other jokes. There’s a big difference Niall when you’re sitting with somebody. I have many friends of different nationalities and races and 15% of my staff are foreign nationals. Anyone who knows me knows the context this is in, however, in the event of anyone taking any offence to it...it was completely inappropriate, it was an embarrassing remark to have made, and there was never any racist intent. Apologies to anyone who may take offence from it.

NB:The whole point is nobody would have taken offence to it had it not been put in the public domain in the first place.

DH: I’m going to put it in context. This is where I was approached by two individuals to seek €10,000 as a payment, which is now being investigated by the guards. There is material there that corroborates that, which, to be fair to Niall in The Sunday World, he refers to that he did see material indicating an attempted bribe looking for €10,000. I directed him towards the information. He saw the facebook and text messages that confirmed that.

NB:Can I clarify something David... did you go to the guards before the Sunday World contacted you or after?

DH: Yes, beforehand.

NB: What were they suggesting... they were going to put it in the public domain or sell it to the media?

DH: Sell it to the media. On Friday morning one of the guys, I think, panicked a bit, having the other guy possibly given it to the Sunday World, and rang me to say ‘this has all gone out of my control’ bla bla... so the matter had been reported to the guards before The Sunday World had approached me and a secondary statement had been given since the original statement and the material has been handed over to the guards to investigate and that’s where, correctly, it should be with. And those messages in the article are a number of weeks old, which confirms it’s sort of back dated stuff as opposed to me trying to cover my backside when The Sunday World appeared.

NB: You do accept that people shouldn’t hold these views, obviously?

DH: The views as expressed, or expressed anywhere else, are completely out of context are completely wrong, let’s be clear, they are completely wrong. .. But in the context of something around seven years ago, during banter among friends... it was in 2007 apparently. The views are completely wrong, and as I said to the journalist of The Sunday World, if you do enough research and meet some people who know me, then my record and my character will stand as it stands. That’s not to excuse... the comments that I made were not appropriate. Someone else might have a different view in relation to the banter and that’s fair enough. And to be fair the report in the Sunday World does say ‘this is a 30 second clip of banter’ it does say it was of banter... I’m very cynical this happened... again...it’s years old. It’s the lead up to the election and they’re looking for ten grand. Now all of a sudden I’m joint favourite in the race in Dublin West and all of a sudden this comes out.

NB: Do you think it has had any effect on how successful you might be?

DH: I don’t believe so, I think people in Dublin West, all of the reasonable people will see this for what it is and those who know me or those who find out about me will know that this has no merit in any shape or form. I’d say this has galvanised the team. I think this is the largest team out canvassing tonight.

NB: Are you coming across any people in the general public having a pop at you over it?

DH: No, everyone’s very respectful and understanding about it and understands and believes what it is which is a cynical move. This is old politics, and I was told I’m not a shrinking violet. I have tackled the establishment, I have tackled government, I have tackled banks and... I’ve taken them all on, had a go at them and yes I have made some enemies sometimes and maybe this is just old politics coming back again. There was a time in Ireland where ten grand would get you a lot and this is it again. I hope people move on to new politics.

NB: Somebody has texted in saying ‘does that mean he won’t be fighting for mortgage holders anymore?’

DH: I’m just after having a row... I couldn’t do your show this afternoon because I was having a row. I went to meet a client of mine who is terminally ill with cancer, finishing up some paper work with her, doing a deal with the banks. We’ve a great team with The Irish Mortage Holders Association. I’m dipping in and out during the course of the campaign, concentrating on the campaign but there’s one or two delicate cases that are being dealt with and as I say I had a big ding-dong earlier."

KEYWORDS: David Hall
By Jill O'Sullivan
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