A senior SNP councillor at the centre of a political storm over a perceived anti-English tirade has publicly apologised.
Dave Doogan faced strong criticism from opposition leaders for making references to “red coats” and “quislings” during a debate on the Gaelic language.
The depute leader of the SNP-led Perth and Kinross Council has now broken his silence on the controversy, and apologised for causing trouble for council officers – but he has not said sorry for the comments themselves.
Instead, he apologised to council officers and provost Liz Grant for bringing about an extra workload and “negative publicity”.
Tory councillor Ian Campbell was shut down at the meeting as he attempted to call for Mr Doogan to make a “wider apology for the people of Perth and Kinross”.
The speech, made nine weeks ago, was raised in Holyrood, leading First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to condemn any comments which seek “to divide people on the basis of their ethnicity”.
An extract of his speech, which was delivered in Gaelic and later translated by Mr Doogan, read: “Let us not reflect on concerns that we have been under the heel of foreign influence and power for over 300 years.
“The island of Britain is no longer subject to the actions of quislings who may seek to see smaller cultures extinguished on an island of coffins by red coats.”
Reading a prepared statement to Wednesday afternoon’s full council meeting, Mr Doogan said he spoke out, while seconding a motion at talks on February 22.
“Although my Gaelic is far from fluent, I was touched by the unanimous acclaim and applause which followed my speech,” he said.
He said he “happily” gave a translation of his words to local media.
“Soon after, the original context of my speech and the historical references contained within were altered completely,” he said.
“This was much debated, which had the effect of causing officers of this council, and you personally Provost, all manner of discussions, causing additional work and inconvenience.”
Mr Doogan said: “Much has been claimed about what I said in this speech and I have resisted my strong inclination to address these allegations.
“I am aware that there is very little point in me seeking to set the record straight within the media.
“In any event, I view this as purely a matter for the council and today represents my first opportunity to highlight my position to the council.”
He added: “My speech to the last council meeting, however benign my personal intentions were, opened the door to negative publicity for the council and placed additional demands on officers’ time and workload. It is in this context that I wish to take the opportunity to apologise.”
Conservative councillor Ian Campbell, who launched a cross party bid to get Mr Doogan to retract his remarks, said the comments were a contravention of standing orders.
“Councillor Doogan’s characterisation of the English-born members of our community as ‘red coats’ and the characterisation of those who not subscribe to nationalist ideology as ‘quislings’ was not relevant to the paper (on Gaelic language),” he said.
However, Mr Campbell was stopped by Mrs Grant who said his own comments were not applicable to the agenda item, which was a review of the minutes of the February 22 meeting.
She said she had accepted Mr Doogan’s apology on behalf of the council.
Mr Campbell said: “It looked like they wanted to shut me down as quickly as possible.
“But the main thing is that councillor Doogan has finally apologised. He’s has been made to eat humble pie.”
Mr Campbell said that he was now calling for new a standing order to ensure that any speech given in a language other than English “must be accompanied with a translation.”
A senior councillor accused of making an anti-English rant about “quislings” and “red coats” has broken his silence with a public apology.
But Dave Doogan, the depute leader of the SNP-led Perth and Kinross Council, has not said sorry for the remarks.
Instead, he apologised to council officers and provost Liz Grant for attracting “negative publicity” and extra work.
Mr Doogan said yesterday’s full council meeting – nine weeks after his speech, delivered in Gaelic – was the first chance he had to properly address the comments.
He said there was no point trying to defend himself against “allegations” about the remarks in the media.
Conservative councillor Ian Campbell, who has called for Mr Doogan to retract his comments, was shut down at the meeting as he tried to suggest a “wider apology for the people of Perth and Kinross”.