Déise Today

Waterford Councillor apologises for "clumsy wording" of social housing email, but stands by it

Waterford Councillor apologises for "clumsy wording" of social housing email, but stands by it

A local councillor says he apologises that an email he sent was "clumsily worded" but says he stands by it.

In the email to the council's housing department, Councillor Jim Griffin was making the case for two houses in Dunmore East to be given to families of children with disabilities.

However, he also suggested that the Lighthouse Way estate would have less anti-social behaviour problems than others, because only four of the houses are social houses.

It has been published in today's Irish Independent, but was also shared on Facebook by Councillor Griffin three weeks ago.


He spoke to Damien Tiernan on Déise Today:

"I have said yes, I probably could have worded it better to Ivan [Grimes, Director of Services for Housing], but it was a private email which we had already discussed with him. And I was spelling out what I was trying to express.

"I'm saying maybe those words were clumsily put to Ivan, but I am not casting aspersions on social housing.

"... All I can say Damien, is that I apologise to those people if that's what they took from the article."


Councillor Griffin stressed that the real aim of his correspondence was to try and better the lot of those two families:

"You have to work very closely with these families to understand the complexities of the needs of the children when they have severe autism... When they're in built-up areas they have such an acute sense of hearing that sirens, bin lorries, day-to-day living can stress them out no end.

"I totally, totally accept that it was probably clumsily worded the way I sent the email to Ivan Grimes. If my email was for the eyes and ears of the whole country, I probably would have worded it slightly differently."

In the course of his interview this morning, the Sinn Féin representative said there was an internal investigation taking place to establish exactly how the email was leaked. However, as mentioned above, it has transpired that photographs of the email itself were shared to Facebook the day after it was sent and were then shared by Councillor Jim Griffin himself on his own page.

The original post has more than 60 shares.

Speaking on air, he said he was sorry if the contents of the email were being picked up wrong:

"Of course I have to apologise if some people read that article and think that that's what was meant by it. What I was trying to do was really advocate on behalf of two families that I know intimately and that have huge, huge aspirations to move on in their lives with kids with additional needs.

"... In this instance, I was trying to do that. But of course, I never have a problem with apologising and if I'm under the cosh, yes, so be it - that's life in public life."

The show was then contacted by the mother of one of the families involved, Lisa O'Hanlon.

She also defended Councillor Griffin, saying she doesn't think anything untoward was meant by the email:

"I am a mother with a child with special needs and I can honestly say that kids are cruel. I'm in a position where I have no back garden so I have nowhere for my son to go and play on a daily basis to get his daily exercise.

"When I bring him out onto the street, because he's so vocal - he flaps, he makes funny noises - kids laugh and kids point. That's, I think, what [Councillor Griffin] means by anti-social behaviour and all this carry-on."

Continuing, she said she was very pleased with the representation made on her family's behalf:

"I thought it was a brilliant email. I thought he highlighted my situation great.

"So, I think it was a grand email - I'm not going to say that it was clumsy or whatever, or that he meant what he said or anything like that.

"With my situation, I can't bring my son out to play because kids look at him and start laughing. They'll run and get their friends to come over and point at him.

"That's the situation I think he meant to get across. Not that it's anti-social behaviour or anything like that."

You can listen back to the full story here: