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Former Naas Mayor Darren Scully and 'black Africans' - ignorance is no excuse for racism

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Darren Scully's political campaign poster
The town of Naas in Kildare is a sort of second home to me, as it’s where a good friend of mine from college now works and lives. As such, whenever I hear the town's name on the news, my ears tend to prick up.

Imagine my dismay then when I heard the unholy reason my ears pricked up earlier this week. The town’s erstwhile Mayor, Darren Scully, made the extraordinary announcement – on local radio, no less – that he was no longer going to be dealing with the constituency issues of "black Africans".

His reason? He had experienced aggression and bad manners from black constituents. When it was put to him that what he was doing was the essence of racism, his defence was that he was just being honest and forthright, that he didn’t think of himself as racist, that he has black friends and has great craic with the black taxi drivers talking about football, basically crossing off every square on the “I’m Not Racist But” bingo card.

Now there are some flat out, irredeemable goons in the Irish political sphere, but Scully really does shine out among them.

For starters, if he had a problem with rude people at clinics, he should have said so. If he’d said “I’ve been getting some grief at clinics, and I won’t be taking that anymore” then that would have been fine, so why the arbitrary targeting of black constituents?

I absolutely refuse to believe that black people are his or anyone else in professional politics’ sole transgressors. After all, without white people being aggressive and ill-mannered about political issues there’d be no such thing as talk radio.
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And then there’s the issue of a public representative literally making discriminating decisions about who he serves based on a prima facie judgement which is as repugnant to his vocation as it is to humanity. His attempt to justify himself (there were some people from “other backgrounds” living in the area that he also did not deal with) only goes to show how ridiculous his views are.

Sadly though, Scully’s views are emblematic of a way of thinking that still exists, however outdated. A way of thinking that maintains it’s OK to say whatever drek you like so long as you’re “just expressing your opinion” or “just being honest”. A way of thinking that carelessly throws monstrous generalisations around in reference to the industry and motives of entire nationalities and ethnicities. A way of thinking that luxuriates unashamedly in its own narrow-minded conceit. I see it and hear it in all sorts of places, sometimes even within the comments section of this very website. It’s pathetic.

The most galling thing of all though is the sickening hypocrisy that lurks around the corner from this kind of feckless, witless bloviating. A friend of mine told me this week that there are reports in some local conservative media outlets in Canada that have been hostile to recent Irish arrivals, questioning their work ethic and such. If those reports became plentiful enough to be covered back home, those same fools who castigate the blacks and the foreigns here would be up in arms about how shoddily the proud Irish people are being treated, how at least when we went places around the world we worked for our keep dag nabbit, and how the Canadians are just a bunch of Brit lovers anyway, before rallying for a boycott of maple syrup, bacon, Due South, ice hockey, Gordon Lightfoot, politeness and Robin from How I Met Your Mother.

And while Darren Scully as Mayor jettisoned black Africans who live in his own town, if Paul McGrath was signing his book in Naas, or Samantha Mumba was opening a club in Naas, you know full well he’d be over to them so quickly he’d leave a plume of cartoon smoke behind him, with a corral of photographers in tow.

Naas is a commuter town, and as such it is inhabited by great swathes of people who originate elsewhere, both from other countries and from other parts of this country. Far from diminishing your environs there is great joy and value to be had from people living and working and playing with people who aren’t all necessarily from the same townland as you. And, in the same way Irish people have brought that joy and value to all corners of the world, my own life would have been a whole lot duller without the wide cultural influences I’ve been exposed to as a child, things like British TV, American politics, Jewish comedy, oriental cuisine, Latin music or black culture in general.

This week marks the anniversary of JFK’s death, and in an all-too-pertinent clip about Civil Rights he said no country can be free unless its citizens are free also. As Irish people and citizens of the world who know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of unfair and unfounded abuse, we must not tolerate such blind, mendacious prejudice when it happens to other people. It’s time for the likes of Darren Scully, and the woodwork emergers backing him up, to step out of their caves. They might learn something.

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READ MORE:
More news on the Irish Government from IrishCentral


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