Comedian and writer Brendan O'Carroll has said he is "sickened" by President Donald Trump’s reaction to the protests that have gripped the US in the past week following the death of an unarmed black man in police custody in Minneapolis.
Speaking on Liveline on RTÉ Radio One on Tuesday afternoon from his home in Davenport, Florida, the Mrs Brown’s Boys creator was asked what he thought of Trump’s decision to stage a photo-op as he held up a bible outside a church near the White House on Monday night.
"I was sick to my stomach watching it," O’Carroll said. "The police and the National Guard charged the people on Lafayette Avenue down that street so he could appear for a photoshoot with a bible. It was sickening to watch."
The Finglas man also urged protestors to vote in the upcoming presidential election this November. "They have to vote, they have to have their voices heard at the ballot box."
He also dismissed Trump’s accusation that the anti-fascist group Antifa was orchestrating the riots and looting that has broken out amid the mainly peaceful protests, and the suggestion that George Soros was funding the violence and destruction. "Antifa is like Weightwatchers. It’s a loose group of people who believe in the same thing but there’s no organisation to it," O’Carroll said.
"To say George Soros is funding it is a conspiracy theory. If he’s funding it, what’s he doing? Paying people to break windows? Breaking windows goes on in riots all over the world. You’ll always have a handful of people who will take advantage while police are diverted."
He added: "If you let that be the thing the press reports on, you forget that a young man was held on the ground while a police officer put a knee on his neck for nine minutes, and Mr Floyd was screaming, screaming 'I can’t breathe’."
Asked by Liveline host Joe Duffy if he would join any potential protest march in Orlando, O’Carroll said: "I possibly would but I’d rather do it at the ballot box."
O'Carroll also spoke to Duffy about how his work has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. He said: "We had a tour planned for this summer of the UK and Ireland, which was due to finish in December in the 3Arena, which we’ve had to push back for a year.
"We’ve managed to pay everybody, people have to eat. You have to keep going and see what happens next but if you turned on the news here in Orlando you wouldn’t know anything is going on, most of the shops never closed, our golf club here never closed so it’s much more relaxed here than in Europe or Ireland.
"One thing I am delighted about is that if you look at the news over here, Ireland is being held up as an example of how to do things right. It makes you very proud when you see that."
O’Carroll also said that the BBC sent him a list of guidelines two weeks ago with "about 70 things they can and can't do" for recording the Mrs Brown Christmas specials in October. He ended on a positive note about the rest of 2020.
"I think that list is getting shorter and shorter as time goes on," he said. "The recordings will go ahead but whether or not we have a live audience, that’s the thing. These things can pass very, very quickly and it’s quite possible that by the time we get to August people will look back on this part of the year and say let’s forget it ever happened. I think there’s going to be a bounce-back, I really do."