herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

I'll sue, says FG councillor over his Hitler photo

THE Fine Gael councillor who took pictures of his new wife giving a Nazi salute beside a waxwork dummy of Adolf Hitler has threatened to sue over their publication.

Cllr Barry O'Neill says he is taking "immediate legal action" relating to the reproduction of a picture of his wife Lorraine.

In a statement to Highland Radio in Donegal, Cllr O'Neill, an RTE Producer, said he was taking the action regarding how he and his wife had been portrayed.

In addition he was taking the action regarding the way the photograph had been reproduced, he said.

The picture is of Mrs O'Neill in a waxwork museum while on honeymoon -- the picture has since been removed from a social networking page.

Rabbit

Yesterday a Jewish community leader who organises the annual Holocaust Memorial Day at the Mansion House called for an apology after Mr O'Neill told the Herald the pictures were 'a bit of fun'.

Cllr O'Neill is from Ballyshannon in Co Donegal, and is a leading member of the party in the North West, and sits on the county council. He also works on RTE Radio One's Sunday Sport.

He married wife Lorraine 12 days ago and is on honeymoon with her in Europe. But there was anger when Cllr O'Neill posted pictures on his Facebook page of his wife standing beside a waxwork dummy of Adolf Hitler at a museum in Rome and giving a Nazi salute.

Mrs O'Neill can also be seen making a 'rabbit' gesture behind the Hitler dummy's head.

Asked about the pictures by the Herald on Sunday, Cllr O'Neill said: "The pictures are private. It was only a bit of fun."

The offending picture was removed from his Facebook page an hour later. All his other honeymoon pictures were also taken down from the page which was open to the public.

Yanky Fachlar, spokesman for the Jewish Representative Council in Ireland and organiser of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day at Dublin's Mansion House, said the picture was "deeply offensive".

He called on Fine Gael to raise the matter with the councillor. "This sort of thing is highly insensitive and shows an incredible ignorance of Hitler and the Nazis," he said.

"That salute and what it stands for led to the deaths of millions of people including some of my relatives.

"It beggars belief that there are some ignorant people like this who think it's fun, but especially someone who was elected as a councillor and his wife."

Mr Fachlar, whose friends helped to save hundreds of Jews during the war in and around Rome, said he was "astonished" that the Rome waxwork museum had such an exhibition.

"This is something to raise with the Jewish community there," he said.

Online 'friends' of the councillor expressed shock at the images. One of them said: "I was shocked to see the wife of an elected councillor posting pictures of herself giving the Nazi salute.

"To simply adopt this gesture is illegal in Germany and Austria and I am personally offended beyond words as I lost ancestors to the Hitler regime."

Festival

Cllr O'Neill married his fiancee and schoolteacher Lorraine on December 30. More than 500 guests attended a reception at the Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town.

The couple then flew off for a tour of Europe, spending several days in Rome.

Mrs O'Neill had posted a note on the same Facebook page thanking "our family and friends for making our wedding day a most memorable and special day. It was definitely the BEST day of both our lives."

Her husband is well-known in music circles throughout Ireland as the main organiser of the annual Rory Gallagher Music Festival in Ballyshannon in August.

hnews@herald.ie

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