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shocking abuse 'Racist phone calls will not stop me running for office', former election candidate says

"I would have loved to have seen him and I know with Covid we can't shake hands, but I would have. There is no point in keeping an enemy"

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Election candidate John Uwhumiakpor received a racist phone call.

Election candidate John Uwhumiakpor received a racist phone call.

Election candidate John Uwhumiakpor received a racist phone call.

An election candidate who was subjected to menacing racist phone calls says he will not be intimidated out of public service after a man was convicted over the incident this week.

General Election 2020 candidate John Uwhumiakpor told the Sunday World that while he will continue to run for office such incidents frighten potential candidates from ethnic minorities from becoming involved.

Edward Smith (61), from Mount Talbot, Co. Roscommon, made the call to a People Before Profit candidate just weeks before last year's election, in which he unleashed a racist tirade starting with: "Stay out of Irish politics, Irish politics is for Irish people."

Nigerian-born Mr Uwhumiakpor, who did not get elected in Dublin's Fingal constituency, said that after hearing the first sentence from Smith he couldn't take in any more of his tirade because he was so shocked.

"He said more than that, but my mind was in shock and I wasn't able to process what he said after that. Eventually, I recovered and said: 'Thanks for calling'. Then I hung up."

Gardaí later tracked down Smith and this week he pleaded guilty to sending a message by telephone that is grossly offensive or menacing to Mr Uwhumiakpor at his home address in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, on January 29, 2020.

He was fined €200 and also offered another €600 as a token of his remorse.

He said he was extremely sorry for what he had done and had lost the run of himself while drunk.

Frightened

Care worker Mr Uwhumiakpor, who did not attend court due to Covid restrictions, told how the incident frightened him and his family but will not deter him from continuing in politics.

"At that time I was at home and I was just getting ready to go out to campaign. I was with my little daughter and my wife. I turned to my wife and said 'I'm not going to stop'. That is not right. That is like being a coward to listen to this call and stay away."

Internet posts from Smith show how he was a big fan of conspiracy theorist Gemma O'Doherty and former American president Donald Trump and attacked a seven-year-old girl by describing her as "right little snowflake".

Mr Uwhumiakpor said O'Doherty, who ran unsuccessfully in Dublin Fingal on an anti-immigrant platform, had posted a video about him before the call.

"Gemma O'Doherty put my campaign poster on a video she was making at that time.

"I live in Balbriggan. She targeted Balbriggan so furiously during the campaign. She was trying to get a foothold in Balbriggan to stir up confusion.

"A lot of people wouldn't subscribe to her philosophy so they stood and pushed her out of the community. "

He said he was willing to accept Smith's apology.

"Why not. I would have loved to have seen him and I know with Covid we can't shake hands, but I would have. There is no point in keeping an enemy.

Support

"The short time we have we should support each other to make life easier. Life is too difficult in itself without creating more problems for people. If you take the colour of our skin out of our body we are all the same. Tell him I don't have anything against him. "

It is the latest incident to highlight the abuse political figures from ethic minorities receive.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Hazel Chu, who is an Irish woman of Asian heritage, is regularly targeted by the far right, while Limerick Deputy Mayor Abul Kalam Azad Talukder who is Muslim has also received racist abuse.

Mr Uwhumiakpor came to Ireland 15 years ago and his children were all born here.

Since arriving here he became a social care worker and got a degree in psychology after putting himself through college.

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