An Erne East councillor has said he would have "no hesitation in apologising" after using the term ‘slow learner’ during a debate last week.

Sinn Féin’s Sheamus Greene used the comment to describe other councillors when there was a discussion about gold mining and the Council’s corporate position on it.

Councillor Greene said: “Could I propose another workshop is prepared for the slow learners who didn’t understand it the first time, or didn't bother attending either?”

When asked by this newspaper if he would apologise for the use of the term, Councillor Greene said: “I would have no hesitation in apologising for using the term 'slow learner'.

"I used the phrase in the heat of a debate in the Council Chamber.

“It wasn't said to any one councillor, but to the ones who seemed confused about the clearly set out estimates process.”

Accepting that it was incorrect to use the term, Councillor Greene said: “What I should have proposed was another workshop for councillors who didn't bother turning up to previous Council meetings and workshops, and who continue to be confused by all explanations given.”

When asked to clarify if he will apologise for using the term, Councillor Greene said: "I clearly apologised for using the term 'slow learner'."

In his response, Councillor Greene referenced an article earlier this year where an interviewee, Sean O'Loughlin, described himself as a "slow learner" during an interview about his life when speaking about his education. 

The term has caused issues when used by politicians in the past about other elected representatives, with some deeming it as offensive and upsetting for people with disabilities.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald previously criticised the then Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, for referring to Sinn Féin policies as “politics for slow learners” in May, 2023. 

One of her TDs, Pauline Tully, hit out at Mr. Varadkar’s comments at the time, and remarked how deeply offensive they were, and the upset they had caused for people with disabilities.

At the time, Mr. Varadkar said he was referencing the term used by former SDLP Deputy Leader, Seamus Mallon, who referred to the Good Friday Agreement as “Sunningdale for slow learners”.