FG mayor quits over race comments

 

Fine Gael’s Darren Scully resigned tonight as Mayor of Naas following controversy over his comments about “black Africans".

Cllr Scully, a member of Naas Town Council, said today in an interview that he would no longer represent “black Africans” living in his area after experiencing an "aggressive" attitude and "bad manners" when dealing with some.

He told Kildare FM that the view was his own and not that of Naas Town Council. He said he would refer queries from black African constituents to other members of the council.

There was strong reaction to his comments, with Fine Gael distancing itself and a Labour TD referring them to the Garda.

In a statement tonight, Mr Scully said he wished to “apologise unreservedly” for his remarks. “I realise they have caused deep hurt and offence in all communities and in all sectors of society,” he said.

“I realise now that my remarks were open to an interpretation that I did not intend. I abhor racism in all its forms.

“I have been proud to be Mayor of Naas and to represent all the people of the town. However, as a result of the upset that I have caused, I feel it is appropriate that I step down from this position.”

In the interview broadcast today on Kildare FM, Mr Scully (38) said his "experiences of dealing with black Africans has not been good" and largely centred around representations relating to housing and housing lists.

"I have been met with aggressiveness and bad manners," he told the Kildare Today programme. "I have also been met with the race card, (with some claiming) 'Oh yeah, you will help white people, but you don't help black people'."

Put to him that his stance could be seen as 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. 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 on experience and every single case I’ve had that’s been the outcome of it."

Mr Scully said there were some people from “other backgrounds” living in the area that he also did not deal with. He said he had lived abroad previously and embraced many cultures.

Labour TD for Dublin North East Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he had reported the councillor to An Garda Síochána under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.

Labour TD for Waterford Ciara Conway said she was "absolutely disgusted and sickened by these appallingly ignorant and disgustingly racist" comments.

“Darren Scully should be removed from public office," she said. "Elected representatives are there to serve the whole community, and in today’s Ireland the community is vibrant with many people of differing ethnicities."

Fine Gael said Mr Scully's the remarks would be investigated and that the views expressed did not represent party policy. "Fine Gael is an inclusive party and we are trying to build a country that caters for all," it said in a statement.

Asked if Mr Scully would be expelled from the party, a Fine Gael spokesman said the party did not comment on internal proceedings.

The Equality Authority described Mr Scully’s remarks as very concerning. “We will be very concerned that any member of the public would be denied access to the democratic process," a spokesman said. “Equally, it is very concerning that the actions of one individual would brand an entire sector and community, and deny them access to the democratic process.”

Anti-racism organisation Show Racism the Red Card also called for Mr Scully’s resignation.

Co-ordinator Garrett Mullan said there was no place for racism in politics. "Elected representatives have a responsibility to their constituents," he said.

The Integration Centre said Fine Gael should send a clear message on its attitude towards racism by expelling Mr Scully from the party. The organisation said his comments were "truly idiotic" and appealed for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to take action.