Keating apologises for offensive language but refuses to refer himself to Local Government Commissioner

A Councillor who sent an email to a constituent advising them to “STAY THE  F*** AT HOME” will not be referring himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.

Councillor Garath Keating during his term as Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.
Councillor Garath Keating during his term as Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

Armagh based Sinn Fein Councillor Garath Keating, had included his fellow councillors in the response to an email about recycling centres and parks from a constituent.

In the email, he also referred to constituents who “throw their rubbish about the place” as “irresponsible c***s”. He later sent a follow up email apologising for his “unprofessional language”.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Keating said his language was “inappropriate” but not “of sufficient concern to require a referral” to the Local Government Commissioner.

Councillor Darryn Causby, another former Lord Mayor.

“No I haven’t reported myself to the Local Government Commissioner,” said the former Lord Mayor.

“Whilst I appreciate that my choice of language may have been inappropriate, I do not feel that the communication itself was, in the context of the current health crises, of sufficient concern to require a referral to that body.

“I am familiar with the applicable code of conduct for LGC’s. I personally do not feel that my email was incompatible with the same.

“I did not direct any of my comments at the recipient of the email personally and I have offered a very public apology for the unprofessional language used within the email.

Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell

“There are many immediate and very pressing matters that I will be continuing to focus my attention on as part of our community response to the present difficult circumstances and crises being faced by our local families.”

However, DUP Councillor Darryn Causbey has claimed the comments made within the email were “deeply inappropriate” and called on Councillor Keating to refer himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.

“It is right that an apology has been issued, even though it appears only to have been issued after he inadvertently sent the email to all Councillors and had been caught being incredibly rude and unprofessional,” said Cllr Causby.

“As a former Lord Mayor he should know better. Councillors may have deep feelings about these matters, but we must always keep our discourse civilised and professional.

“Regardless of party background, no Councillor should be responding to a constituent in that manner. It was deeply inappropriate and just downright ill-mannered regardless of how strongly anyone feels about a matter.

“By Councillor Keating’s own assessment his remarks were “unprofessional” and had gone “too far” if he had any shred of integrity he should refer himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards for investigation.”

The Council’s current Lord Mayor, Councillor Mealla Campbell has also moved to distance the Council from these remarks.

“The views expressed are those of an individual councillor and not the Council,” she said.

“The language and tone used in the e-mail is not representative of the way in which the Council carries out its business.

“It is my understanding that Cllr Keating has formally apologised for his conduct.”

In Councillor Keating’s initial email, sent at 9.22pm on Monday, April 20th, he wrote: “The general advice across the board is for people to STAY THE F*** AT HOME !!”

“As an organisation the Council does not want to be encouraging people to be clearing attics, sheds, under beds etc at this time and then making the corresponding (but ultimately avoidable) trips to the recycling centres, where staff are in turn required to work and man the service.

“Then someone else has to drive lorries and collect the refuse and take it away elsewhere to be processed – which in turn requires those businesses and organisations to be manned and operational also.

“The recycling centres are part of a bigger process cycle which requires a lot of corresponding travel and journeys all of which, whilst undoubtedly very useful are not essential.

“I know people want to clear out their stuff, I know there are some irresponsible c**ts who think its acceptable to throw their rubbish about the place and that is hugely unfortunate – but the importance of the advice to STAY THE F*** AT HOME ultimately takes precedence over both as it quite literally is a matter of life and death.”

Then, in a follow up email sent at 10:11pm on Monday, April 20th, Councillor Keating wrote: “Apologies for the use of unprofessional language in my email.

“Bit too far in making the point, but something I feel particularly strongly about in the current climate given the awful impact this pandemic is having across the borough.

“Hope I have not caused you any offence.”

Adam Morton , Local Democracy Reporting Service