London’s Lord Mayor Boris Johnson has been forced to make an embarrassing apology to the city’s Irish community after his St Patrick’s Day gaffe.
Johnson had to backtrack after alleging that a gala St Patrick Day’s dinner, funded by ratepayers, was being used to promote Sinn Féin.
The allegations, made in an interview in the New Statesman magazine, were highlighted by Ken Livingstone, Johnson’s opponent in the forthcoming Lord Mayor election.
Livingstone claimed that Johnson had no interest in the city’s Irish community.
The story gained prominence again this week when Johnson confirmed that he will not attend London’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Trafalgar Square this weekend.
The current Mayor has now apologised to the London Irish community in an open letter to organisers but refuted all allegations that he is anti-Irish.
“There has been real and admirable progress in the fight against any lingering anti-Irish sentiment in London and it is deeply upsetting that people have alleged that I harbour such feelings,” said Johnson.
“I accept now that the dinner was self-financing but had been backed by a Greater London Authority contingency guarantee.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron even joked about Johnson’s comments during a meeting with his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny at Downing Street when they spoke about the city’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“I am sure that there will be a good show put on in London this year. I can’t promise that Boris Johnson will dye his hair green, but, you never know, he might do, it’s election year,” said Cameron.
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