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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Editor quits in Irish jokes row
Heard the one about the Northern Ireland man who got into hot water over Irish jokes?

Denis Lusby stepped down as editor of a community magazine in Cornwall after it was claimed some jokes were racist.

St Brewards Tower
The magazine circulates in the parishes of Blisland and St Breward

But the 58-year-old grandfather, who has edited the publication for the last 11 years, said it was "political correctness gone mad."

Mr Lusby, who moved from Londonderry in 1969 to get away from the Troubles, built up the Blisland and St Breward Community Magazine from a flysheet to a 56-page monthly.

The publication, which sells about 500 copies, includes information on local events.

It also included jokes about people called O'Toole, Murphy and Gallagher.

But the head of Cornwall's Equality and Diversity Service, Ginny Harrison-White, said the jokes used "racist language or ridicule" as defined by the Race Relations Act.

Mrs White, who said she was acting as a concerned local resident, wrote to primary schools at Blisland and St Breward.

She asked whether they felt it appropriate to have their news printed alongside "such derogatory material" and claimed the jokes could affect the attitudes of the children.

Mr Lusby, who also runs the village shop in St Breward, said he was deeply hurt by accusations of racism.

He said: "The Irish are the first to have a joke at themselves.

To be accused of racism, specifically anti-Irish, has hurt me very deeply
Denis Lusby

"I can understand why racism laws have been tightened up, but it has given loads of powers to people to take it to extremes."

Mr Lusby, chairman of St Breward parish council, said the magazine had published all sorts of jokes, not just about Irish and he had received support from Irish people living in the country.

"I have had telephone calls from people with Irish jokes saying the ones I had published were not very good," he said.

Mr Lusby said rural life was a struggle for many people, and he felt humour could help.

"To be accused of racism, specifically anti-Irish, has hurt me very deeply," he said.

In a statement, Mrs Harrison-White said she firmly believed it was the responsibility of all members of society to support each other and ensure any actions, comments or public materials did not cause offence.

Mr Lusby said he would not change his mind about resigning, adding "it was not a decision I took lightly".


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