Joe Loughnane, who is standing in the coming election for PBP in Galway, has put out a statement admitting that a recording of him saying that he had “sorted a lot of drugs for a lot of people in this city” was legitimate and that he had made that statement. He says that he only made the statement in order to frighten men who had been aggressive towards him. Mr Loughnane says he was drunk, angry, and extremely vulnerable when he made that and other comments, that the things he says in the recording are lies, and that the recording itself was illegal.
Mr Loughnane, as the head of GARN, the Galway Anti-Racism Network, has been a regular contributor to Irish media over the past year. He is often quoted as an expert on racial affairs, most recently in relation to comments by Noel Grealish TD. He’s now standing as a general election candidate.
The recording is from a house party that Mr Loughnane says he attended in early 2019. He says that he was pinned to a chair and choked by far-right racists when he made the remarks, and that he made them out of a desperate attempt to find something to say that would get them to think he was dangerous and so convince them to let him go. He says this did not work and they continued to hold him down and berate him.
However the recording, a clip of which we’ve included, doesn’t seem to include any signs of a physical struggle. Instead the conversation, which appears to take part outside and during which Mr Loughnane does not appear to be in physical danger, appears to be based around Mr Loughnane feeling that others at the party were judging him unfairly for using cocaine.
He can be heard on the recording saying “If I’m taking coke, what the fuck is that to you? Judging me for taking a bit of coke? Fuck you. Judging me for coke? Fuck ye.” before making the statement regarding his ability to ‘sort out’ others with drugs. He later complains that he worked “before this house even existed for you fuckers to have a fucking gaff”; and now they should not judge him considering his various good works. Mr Loughnane, in his statement, says he has never been in the house of the people in the recording.
Mr Loughnane says that he was drunk, “verging on black-out territory”, that ‘he doesn’t remember much of this at all”, and that his review of the night is based on what his friends told him happened afterwards.
In his statement Mr Loughnane says that he had never been to the house the house party was being held in, and that not only is he not a drug dealer, but that he does not know any drug dealers. In the recording he can be heard saying that the people he is talking to should not judge him badly for cocaine usage as they are constantly high on acid and ecstasy. He further says it would have been difficult for him, as “a young mixed-race man with openly socialist politics” to have flown under the radar of the Gardai in Galway, and that those claiming he is a drug dealer are trading in the “tired old trope of associating young men of colour with violence and pushing drugs”.
Mr Loughnane has previously come to the attention of the Gardai having been before the courts in 2013 on two counts of assault against members of the Gardai. He was ordered to pay €1400 in lieu of conviction.
In his statement he says that he ‘has never been involved in the sale nor supply of any drug anywhere”.
We have reached out to PBP for comment on this matter, and to ask if they were aware of the recording or of Mr Loughnane’s assault charges when he was selected as a candidate for this general election. We haven’t received a response at time of print. We’ll update the article should they respond.