FG councillor resigns as mayor after radio remarks

Wed, Nov 23, 2011, 00:00

A FINE Gael town councillor resigned as mayor of Naas, Co Kildare last night and apologised “unreservedly” for saying he would no longer represent “black Africans”.

Darren Scully, a former general election candidate, said his remarks had “caused deep hurt and offence in all communities and all sectors of society”.

“I realise now that my remarks were open to an interpretation that I did not intend. I abhor racism in all its forms,” he said. Mr Scully will remain on as Fine Gael town councillor for Naas.

He did not attend a special Naas Town Council meeting last night. In a statement the council expressed surprise and disappointment and said councillors had a “duty to represent” constituents “irrespective of county of origin”

His resignation came after radio remarks by Mr Scully were branded “racist” and reported to gardaí by Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Mr Scully said he had encountered “aggressive” attitudes and “bad manners” while dealing with members of the African community.

He said the view was his and not that of the council and that he would in future refer queries from black African people to other members of the council.

Mr Scully (38) said his “experiences of dealing with black Africans has not been good” and that they largely centred around representations related to local authority houses and housing lists.

“I have been met with aggressiveness. I have been met with bad manners,” he told the Kildare Todayprogramme on Kildare FM. “I have also been played the race card, (with some saying) ‘Oh yeah, you will help white people, but you don’t help black people’.

Mr Scully said he had encountered similar attitudes for six or seven years and that he recently came to the decision he was “not going to take on representations from black Africans”.

He said he wanted to make it very clear that he had “many non-national friends” and he had lived abroad previously and embraced many cultures.

“Indeed when I’m down the town or go for a pint and I get in a taxi and there’s a taxi driver from an African country I engage in great craic talking about football and their background,” he said.

Put to him that his stance was racist because he was making a decision based on skin colour rather than judging the merits of a specific case, Mr Scully replied: “I suppose you could” say that.

“When you look at the word racist in the dictionary you could probably say it’s wrong of me to make that decision but I’m only going purely on experience and every single case I’ve had that’s been the outcome of it,” he said.

He said he had received abusive text messages and e-mails calling him a Nazi, fascist and racist. He said it “saddens me to think that people would call me a racist because I am not”.

Mr Ó Ríordáin said he had reported the remarks to gardaí in Clontarf under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 because he believed the comments were “criminally irresponsible”. His “actions” and comments were “racist” and “a political party can’t deal adequately with this” he said. A Garda spokeswoman said the force was aware of the remarks and that the matter was “being examined to determine whether an offence is disclosed”.

Fine Gael is looking into the matter but would not comment on whether it would expel a member for such remarks. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was glad Mr Scully had accepted his remarks were “completely out of touch and at variance with” party standards.