CRUEL AND OFFENSIVE: Councillor criticised for Appleby horse Fair post
Cllr Joan McTigue, independent ward councillor for Longlands and Beechwood, Image: Teesside Live
A councillor has been criticised for ‘cruel’ and ‘offensive’ comments after she said she would drown someone who needed rescuing when he rode his horse into deep water at Appleby Horse Fair.
On August 28, Cllr Joan McTigue shared a video from her Facebook account with the caption ‘I would bloody drown them. Gypsies at Appleby Horse Fair!’.
The clip showed a young man riding a horse into the River Eden in Cumbria but he soon gets out of his depth causing both himself and the horse to start panicking and sinking under the water.
Another person guides the horse out to safety while an onlooker jumps in and helps the young man who is seen struggling in the water.
Labour Group leader Matt Storey has said that Cllr McTigue showed a ‘shocking lack of humanity’.
He added: “This is typical of Cllr McTigue’s prejudiced views and on this occasion, they are particularly cruel, heartless, and offensive even for her.
“She should consider her position as someone with such a shocking lack of humanity is totally inappropriate to be an elected representative of any sort.”
While Cllr Antony High, leader of the Middlesbrough Independent Group (MIG) described it as a ‘disgusting public outburst’ and said that these comments would not be deemed acceptable in any other workplace environment.
However, Cllr McTigue has hit back and said that her comments were not racist and were simply expressing disgust about the treatment of the pony.
She added: “Where did I say I would drown the gypsies – nowhere in fact. Where did I say it was the gypsies who were drowning the ponies- nowhere in fact. My comment was two separate sentences.
“They were drowning the ponies and it was horrific to watch them laughing while it happened. There was loud cheering and laughing from the crowd of onlookers while one pony had a heart attack and another drowned.”
Mayor Andy Preston has also defended Cllr McTigue and said that others would express similar outrage after watching the clip.
He added: “The video of a horse’s life being put in danger is horrible and anyone sensible who watches it will be upset and angry.
“I think that Councillor McTigue, acting as a private individual, expressed outrage at this near-drowning of an animal, suggesting that the people who are inflicting the suffering deserve to endure the same kind of treatment.
“Many people would express similar outrage at cruelty to animals, wherever it takes place and whoever does it.”
David Waggit, who is from Gateshead and can be seen in the video swimming out to save the man, posted on Facebook about the incident.
He wrote: “This young lad aged 17 did not do one thing wrong he could not swim and got into trouble in water just like everyone else who could not swim would do the same and not leave go.
“Luckily both got out alive he understands next time to not risk going into deep water even if horses are good swimmers he is massively still shocked but can not thank me enough for stopping him drowning to death.
“He has had the horse for over seven years and has been in deep water before but this has been a freak accident and will not be going back into water again like a says am just so glad I was there for the time I was needed.”
At the Executive meeting on September 7 it was revealed that councillors would be required to partake in mandatory social media training.
Words: Emily Craigie, Local Democracy Reporter
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