Scully affair highlights need for reform
Darren Scully, the now disgraced former Fine Gael Mayor of Naas, will be forever remembered as the local councillor that took to the radio waves of Kildare FM to denounce his “black African” constituents. But his comments have sparked a long overdue national debate on racism and legislative reform in Ireland.
A recent report on the issue, carried out by the European Network Against Racism Ireland, highlighted the need for greater governance in the area. The report said that anecdotal evidence indicated racial slurs and incidents were on the increase - possibly due to the economic downturn.
Ms Catherine Lynch, the report’s author, suggested that “findings ... on Ireland indicate that racism has fallen off the political agenda. This is of significant concern, given the risks at the moment including the recession and the rise of extremism in EU member states. If we continue to ignore the problem, racism will be a fallout of the current recession.”
The ugly face of this fallout became all too apparent this week. Following the resignation of Scully’s post as Mayor of Naas on Tuesday evening, a disturbing trend surfaced online. Comment thread after comment thread displayed an ugly and racist underbelly to Irish society.
In one such thread, under an article headlined 'Mayor of Naas stands down after race remarks', forty-six comments were made. Racial slur followed racial slur. “Hello, Nigerian ladies and gents!” said one. “You can treat Irish people like S---e. You can call us racist and white trash. We can’t say didly squat about you. No wonder you all love coming here!”
Another sympathised with Scully. “Sorry to hear he lost his job; he is not the first Irish person to lose his job over this race card issue or will he be the last. This is only the start and it will only get worse the pc mob are all out for the scammers that think we owe them a living. I have seen them in the dole office mouthing and shouting till they get what they want and they do. It is a pity some more people in government should balls,” said ‘Samual O Jackson’.
Another piece, on TheJournal.ie, carried no fewer than three hundred and thirty three comments. A sample: “I hope the Mayor is not forced to step down for expressing an opinion that many of us share. Certainly all my friends share his views and I’m not exasperating,” said ‘Randy Savage’. His comment received one hundred and fifteen ‘likes’.
In a press release, issued immediately after Scully’s comments, ENAR Ireland again called for more effective legislation and a review of the current Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both, or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding £10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
Surely a multicultural and ‘inclusive’ Ireland can at least amend a twenty-two year old law so as to, at very least, address the problems we as a people face today? Until we at least address this with constructive debate, we will continue to live in a deeply unjust society.