Burchill in new 'racist' row over Irish attack

Burchill: was reported to police last year for ‘inciting racial hatred’

Guardian columnist Julie Burchill is again to be reported to the police over an article she wrote attacking London’s St Patrick’s Day parade and “the celebration of a religion that condemns contraception, abortion, divorce and the right of a woman to be a priest”.

London Irish co-ordinator John Twomey has confirmed he is to draw the latest attack to the attention of the Metropolitan Police Diversity Unit, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Press Complaints Commission.

“Burchill made similar comments last year, her excuse for doing so was that she was attacking the Catholic Church, not the Irish. Now she is making further unsavoury remarks,” said Twomey.

Last year (Press Gazette, 2 August), Burchill attacked the Irish in her column for celebrating “almost compulsory child molestation by the national church, total discrimination against women who wish to be priests, aiding and abetting Herr Hitler in his hour of need and outlawing abortion and divorce”.

This resulted in Twomey referring her to the police for inciting racial hatred. The police sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service but it took the matter no further. She was also reported by the Federation of Irish Societies to the PCC.

On 20 September, Burchill’s column focused mainly on the dangers of asbestosis to workers, but then suddenly switched to the Irish and the Catholic Church.

The attack was provoked by a cut made in the Association of London Government grant to the Occupational and Environmental Diseases Association, a charity that helped those suffering the effects of asbestosis.

“Let’s hope the modest amount the ALG saves on the OEDA grant will be well spent by being put towards the likes of London’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

“Defence of a worker’s right not to be killed by his job versus the celebration of a religion that condemns contraception, abortion, divorce and the right of a woman to be a priest… Difficult one, innit?” wrote Burchill.

Noel Lynch, a Green member of the Greater London Assembly, is to take the issue to the Metropolitan Police Authority, as he believes the comments can be regarded as racist. “She made racist statements about the Irish. Would she have attacked the Muslim religion in such a way?” On Monday, The Guardian printed a correction referring to the article, which quoted the ALG as saying: “The parade is no more to blame for the shutdown of certain grants than the weather.”

Twomey added: “It is an admission of wrongdoing on The Guardian’s part but now the question is what censure there will be for Burchill?” Burchill was unavailable for comment.

By Paul Donovan

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