The Extraordinary Darren Scully Interview

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Fine Gael councillor and now-former Naas Mayor Darren Scully (right) interviewed by an exasperated Clem Ryan on ‘Kildare Today’ this morning on KFM.

He’s not racist but…

Listen here

Clem Ryan: “Good morning, Darragh.”
Darren Scully: “Darren, Clem.”
Ryan: “Darren, I beg your pardon.”
Scully: “Em, Clem. Thanks very much for inviting me on. I think it’s very important, I think this is a serious issue and we need to be very clear on what we say here.”
Ryan: “Right, what is the serious issue now?”
Scully: “The serious issue of some accusations being made towards me.”
Ryan: “OK, right, absolutely, you’re dead right, yeah.”
Scully: “And I think it, it deserves a bit of clarity for your listeners who are listening in this morning. First of all my views and opinions by the way are my views and opinions. They do no represent Naas Town Council or Kildare County Council, or their views or policies. So it’s my views and my opinions and not the views and opinions of the council.”
Ryan: “All right. Let’s talk about the one comment first and I will give you a fair opportunity to give an overview of what is your stance in relation to dealing with other nationalities, in the context of your role as a public representative. What was that one comment?”
Scully: “OK. In my day-to-day business as a councillor, I get all sorts of queries and phonecalls and emails from a wide variety of people, from all over Naas, and indeed all over the county and indeed some national issues also. Over my seven years as a councillor, I have always tried my best to be courteous, to be concerned and to deal with everybody’s issues with honesty and with diligence.
In my time, as a councillor, over the past seven years, my experiences of dealing with black Africans has not been good. I have listened to their concerns when they’re, particularly, it’s all to do with, most of it, it’s to do with housing issues. And I try to explain to people that councillors don’t decide who gets houses. Councillors don’t decide who gets on the list and so on. And any councillor who says that is not being truthful. So what I, em, every time I’ve explained to individuals, particularly to black Africans is that, you know, I can’t get you on the list, I can’t get you up the list, I can’t get you a council house, I have been met with aggressiveness, I have been met with bad manners. I have also been played the race card. I’ve been said (sic) ‘Oh yeah you’ll help white people, but you don’t help black people’. So after a while of this Clem, I’ve been doing this now for six or seven years, I just made the decision, a conscious decision, earlier  this year, that I just was not going to, myself personally, was not going to take on representations from black Africans. That I would be very courteous to them and I would pass on their queries to other representatives, who would take their concerns.
And I would like to make it very, very clear to your listeners that I have many non-national friends and that indeed, when I’m down the town, or I go for a pint, and I get in a taxi, and there’s a taxi driver from an African country, I always engage in great craic, talking about football…”
Ryan: “All right. OK. That’s…”
Scully: “I need to make this very, very clear. Because I got some extremely nasty and abusive text messages and emails last night calling me a fascist, calling me a nazi, calling me a racist. And I think that that is untrue of  my personality and the way I view life. Because I have lived abroad myself and I have embraced many, many cultures, so I think that’s very, very important.”
Ryan:“OK. I have to put one point to Darren, that if you make a decision, based on the colour of a person’s skin, which you are doing, you’re using the term black Africans and therefore, that is a very broad sweeping brush that encapsulates many people, in the way you might talk about white Caucasians. And if you make a decision, which you are making, based on people’s colour that you as a public representative will not represent that aspect of your constituency, that, in essence, is racist. Many people would contend. And therefore you should resign because you’re  declaring publically that you’re not prepared to carry out the remit of your job, which is a duty to represent every single constituent, irrespective of colour or creed.”
Scully:“I think, Clem, I’ve just, as you well know me. I do speak my mind and I do try and be very upfront with people. And yes, sometimes I’ve been accused of being, courting controversy but when I first got the privilege and honour of being elected to the council in 2004, I always made it very clear that I would speak my mind and give my views and opinions openly and freely. And I do think Clem that, yes, you can make that accusation but I don’t..Like…There’s some other people, by the way, from other backgrounds, in this town and county that I don’t deal with either because I found them also abusive.”
Ryan: “OK. Can I just take you back a little…first of all, you talk about your experience with black Africans, about them being aggressive, bad manners and playing the race card. OK. There are a lot of people out there who’ve experienced that. What I can’t understand Darren, is, and all of us have experienced aggressiveness from people of all colours, bad manners, on a daily basis, from people of all colours and I don’t know how many  have experienced accusations of racism. But we can’t turn around, for example, if listeners are aggressive to me, as they can be, if listeners are bad mannered to me, as they can be, I cannot turn around and will not turn around and bar those listeners sending their opinions in or dealing with this radio station or we catering for them. And you, as a public representative, Darren? And I appreciate your frustration, if you’ve been abused but I have to put it to you and just as you’re very frank in your views, so am I. Your stance is racist. Because you’re making a decision which is predicated completely on a person’s skin colour, rather than judging each individual on their merits.”
[Silence]
Scully: “I suppose, Clem, you could. I..you know.. When you look up the word ‘racist’ in the dictionary, yes you could probably say that it’s wrong of me to make that decision but I’m only going purely on experience. And every single case I’ve had, it’s been, that’s been the outcome of it.  And I just, I just suppose for myself, and again this is all to do with my view and opinion, it’s got nothing to do with anybody else or any other grouping..It’s just that I have made a decision that..I just feel that..I don’t want to deal with their cases because of the experiences that I’ve had. And it’s not been just a one-off case or two-off cases, it’s been every single, every single one over seven years. And I just felt it was important that I made my opinion clear, made my view clear and again, it was then picked up on, as you’re describing it now, that it’s been racist.”
Ryan: “But Darren, look, it is racist in the true definition of the term because you’re making an adjudication based on a person’s skin colour and that cannot happen. I appreciate, if you’ve been frustrated, I appreciate how annoyed you’d be, if you get abused and so on, but you cannot, as a public representative, and I’ll say it again, the word ‘public’ means the people, it comes originally from the Latin ‘res publica’, for the benefit of the people. You cannot, as a public representative, stand and say ‘I will represent Clem Ryan but I will not represent person X,  black African, because I’ve had bad experiences with him’. In the same way that you’d turn around, Darren, and say ‘I’m not representing white people because I got abused by one section or another’. This would be my view. That if you’re adopting this stance, your position, as Mayor of Naas, and as a councillor is untenable because you’re acting outside the remit of your role as a public representative.”
Scully: “Clem, do I not have a choice, as a public representative, first of all, to express my opinions? And, secondly, also, to decide who I want to represent?”
Ryan: “Hmm. Eh. Yes to the first one. No to the second one. Yes of course, you have a right to express your opinions and that is why you have always been welcome on this programme, and given a fair forum on this programme, to express your opinions and that’s why we’re dealing with this issue with you today. Yes to the first answer. No you do not have a choice, as a public representative, to pick and choose who you would represent. That is a fundamental contradiction of any democratic principle.”
Scully: “I, I, I would slightly differ with your opinion of what  a public representative is…”
Ryan: “All right. A public representative is elected to represent the public. I have not seen, on any banner, to do with Darren Scully or any other candidate in this county or country, a platform or a policy that says, if elected, I will only represent a particular section of the community. Every public representative, as far as I am concerned, is elected, irrespective of their party affiliation, the mantra you most often hear from candidates is, and most recently the President of this country Michael D Higgins, ‘I will be a President for those who voted for me and I will be a President for those who didn’t vote for me’. Thus must the role of every public representative in this country.And, again Darren, are you not accepting that your role is severely compromised both as a mayor. You’re the representative, you’re the figurehead of the town. And to make a statement that you will not in future represent an entire grouping of people because of their skin colour, is possibly illegal, but I don’t know I’m not a lawyer, is possibly illegal, under whatever laws we have, which certainly, I think, is a resignation issue, in terms of your role as a public representative. And that yes you have a choice, Darren. Which is you can hold that opinion but you cannot hold it as Mayor of Naas or as a publically-elected councillor.”
Scully: “I think Clem in..my actions by the way represent,..not in this particular..in my viewpoint..I think my workings on the council is for the general good of the whole town, for the whole area. I don’t single out any groups or individuals.”
Ryan: “But you’ve just…”
Scully: “…in my work on the council…”
Ryan: “But you’ve just done that now Darren.”
Scully: “No I…”
Ryan: “In fairness. I know Darren, you’re a hardworking councillor and that, over the years, you’ve put in a lot of stuff, but that is not the issue here, but you have just done that. You have, you are publically stating, here on air, that you will not represent a sector of the electorate and of the community of this town and county, based on the colour of their skin.”
Scully: “I think it would be fair to say, to clarify my comments, what I said was, if people were to come to me and I wasn’t happy being in with them, I would pass them on to another councillor who would.”
[Silence]
Ryan: “What you did say, on this programme, Darren, and I can’t say anywhere else, at the outset of this interview, that you said ‘you would not represent these people in the future’…
Scully: And I clarified the reasons why I said that comments that I’ve had issues in the past..
Rryan: And I understand,
Scully: “I know…”
Ryan: “I accept, I understand why you’ve said it – that your experience with black Africans has not been good, you’ve experienced aggressiveness, bad manners and race card. I’m just interested that you would tar an entire ethnic grouping. Everybody in it.. Because if you turned around and said the same thing, Darren, ‘In future, I will not deal with white people because I’ve experienced, all the things you’ve outlined’, people would throw up their heads and wonder…”
[Silence]
Scully: “Yes Clem, I can, again, I take on board the points you’re making. It can be seen as that. I’m sure it has been seen as that by some people. But I think, I don’t know, I made a decision, people can say it would be foolish to make that decision but I made a decision, based on my experiences and what I witnessed..And I made that comment last night. And I’m on the air here this morning to clarify what I meant by that comment. I don’t know. I think that we can be very, very politically correct in this country. I think  anybody who says, anything at all, regarding race, I think, can get attacked very..attack is the wrong word..I think can get rounded on very harshly.”
Ryan: “For very good reasons, Darren. If a person, if a councillor in this country turned around and said ‘I am no longer going to take representations from Travellers, or from white people, or from Laois people’…”
Scully: “They would get the same, I suppose the same interrogation I’m getting from you right now, on the same points being made.”
Ryan: “And they would be expected to resign. You, doubly, as both a public representative and Mayor of Naas, in categorically stating and I know I’m repeating it but I think it’s a point that is essential that it be dealt with that you, as mayor of Naas and as a public representative, if you’re going to stand on this basis, that ‘I represent Clem Ryan but I don’t represent John from Nigeria or from Ethiopia or Somalia, or wherever else, because they were born in another country, and they’re black’, that, Darren, is untenable. And yes, everybody is entitled to hold their views, yes, everybody is entitled to free speech. But I don’t think, Darren, you were elected on a platform of representing some people or representing people only of a particular colour. You’re not a member of the Ku Klux Klan..or any right-wing.”
Scully: “We’re going down this road again of dangerous language here.”
Ryan: “No, no, no, I’m just saying…”
Scully: “Because I’ll make it very clear. Clem, as I’ve said, as I’ve said, everything I do, as a councillor, it’s for the general good. And I don’t raise this issue at council meetings, I don’t make an issue about this. I never, I’ve never, you know it saddens me to think that people would call me a racist because I’m not. I know what I am, as a person, and I’m not any of those things.”
Ryan: “So let me then put one point to you.”
Scully: “Would I be..I mean you made a point there..I’m sure like.. You know in politics, politics is a very diverse field and you know, there’s no, you know yourself, there’s people who are socialist who would never think for one second that a member of Fine Gael represents their views and opinions. And that’s politics across the board, as diverse…And you did make the point that, you know, if a councillor refused, say, to deal with members of the Travelling community that he or she would then be deemed a racist and unfit for office. Em, and I’m just …The point I’m trying to make is..I don’t think we all…The point I’m trying to make Clem is..Everything I do, in my role as a councillor is for the general good. It’s not about being selective at all…”
Ryan: “The general good of white people?”
Scully: “No for the general good of the people who live in the town and the county. Like everybody who lives in the town and the county. And if you’re. If you have a legal right to be here then that’s fantastic and…”
Ryan: “Darren if I, part of my tax-paying money or the tax-paying money of this country is going to pay you as a councillor and give you, your mayoral allowance, to represent the town, it is to represent all of the people. I mean I use the analogy again of the listener. If a listener is personally abusive to me now and I’ll make the distinction. If a listener is personally abusive to me and insulting, as distinct from giving out yards to me, which they do about an issue, right, I can reserve the right to deal with that person. But I cannot do what you are seemingly doing – tar an entire group of people and say because you did it, I am not dealing with anybody who looks like you or has the same colour with you. Nobody is disputing your decision not to deal with a person who is ignorant with you. But what we are disputing is that you, as a public representative, are declaring publically that you are going to disenfranchise a section of the community of this town and county.”
Scully: “I said that I would park, I would direct them onto other persons who would deal with them. Because I just.. every experience I’ve had now I just, I don’t want to go through that process again of being called a racist if I tell them the truth. Because I tell everyone the truth when it comes to housing and how the system works.”
Ryan: “Are you going to represent them?”
Scully: “I’m..I think, you know…representing means to go in with a query, to the officials and ask them, to see what we can do for this person. You know, I try and, you know, em..look, it’s..It comes across as being something that it’s not. In the simple reason that, when you say represent them? like what do you mean ‘represent them?'”
Ryan: “I mean that if Clem Ryan from Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia or any other African country goes to Darren Scully, I have a query, I need you to make representations on my behalf, as all councillors do, make a phone call to the relevant department in the county council, that I can be assured, that you will make that phonecall based on its merits and not because I’m black, blue, pink, yellow or white.”
Scully: “Sorry, I don’t know what colour you are over the telephone.”
Ryan: “Pardon?”
Scully: “I don’t know what colour anybody is over the telephone.”
Ryan: “No but I..Now Darren, look. If I approach you.”
Scully: “Oh yeah, if you approach me. No, what I’ve done, what I’ve said…Clem. I’ll say what I said and that’s what I’ve said. And what I said was that I have made a decision that because of my, of the bad experiences that I’ve been experiencing that I’ve made a decision that if, if, if, if any African comes to me in future, looking for me to make representations on their behalf  I’ll politely introduce them to another councillor to deal with their query.”
Ryan: “And Darren I will put this question to you again. That in fundamentally doing that you are not offering them the type of representation that they, as a member of the public are entitled to, and that therefore you must, Darren Scully, consider your role on the one hand as a public representative and on the second hand, as Mayor of Naas, are you going to consider your position? Would you not step down and do the honourable thing in that circumstance.”
Scully: “Clem, Clem, I will reflect on my comments, I will reflect on my point of view and of course I will listen to people’s reflections also and people’s points of view to me. And then I will make a decision on that. And if, yes, if, depending on what that discussion is, I will make a decision on that. I’m obviously not going to make that decision now with yourself, this minute. But I, of course will, I take responsibility for what I say, I always have. I’ve been in trouble before for making comments and people have asked me to resign and step down. But I’m only expressing my view and my opinion and I think that maybe in politics, that we should have a bit more of that, rather than playing it safe all the time.”

Earlier: Meet The Fine Gael Mayor Who Won’t Represent People Of African Origin

Earlier: Naas Border Control

 

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