Tuesday 22 October 2019

Taken Down creator Stuart Carolan 'shocked by sick, racist commentary' online following series debut

The new RTE drama series charts the plight of people living in direct provision in Ireland

Stuart Carolan: Photo: Gerry Mooney
Stuart Carolan: Photo: Gerry Mooney
Stuart Carolan who collected an award for Script Drama for Love/Hate at the IFTA Awards 2015 at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo by Kyran O'Brien
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Stuart Carolan has revealed he was 'shocked' by the 'racist commentary' from some people on social media following the debut of his new series for RTE.

Taken Down, which kicked off on RTE One on Sunday night, is set in Dublin and follows the investigation into the death of a young Nigerian girl which leads Gardai to a local direct provision centre housing asylum seekers.

The residents are reluctant to talk to anyone - some are terrified of deportation while others are frightened of the police. The series offers realistic a glimpse into the lives of people living in such centres in Ireland.

The first episode received rave reviews, but writer Carolan, who previously penned Dublin crime drama Love/Hate, has said he was shocked by some of the 'vitriolic' commentary about refugees on social media following the programme.

Aissa Maiga in RTE's Taken Down
Aissa Maiga in RTE's Taken Down

Speaking to Eamon Dunphy on The Stand podcast, Carolan said the reaction was mixed.

"There was a great reaction with a lot of people talking about director provision and I suppose some of them knew what a horror it was and it brought home to a lot of them visually and in an emotive way the horror," he said.

RTÉ’s Taken Down
RTÉ’s Taken Down

However, he added, "At the same time there was this really kind of sick commentary, just racist commentary that came up, which was very poisonous.  You know it's there but you're always shocked by how vitriolic it is.

"It's always there.  There's a kind of seething bed of it.  You see it with the Peter Casey stuff and the anti-Traveller stuff and you know it's there and just how nasty and vitriolic it is, it does sometimes shock you with how bad it is."

Carolan, who heavily researched the issue in the course of writing the series, spoke at length about the reality of daily life for people living in this situation in Ireland, many of whom have been living in isolated centres for several years, many of whom are children, and many of whom have endured traumatic experiences before they even reach Ireland.

"I think that the system of direct provision is appalling and it's appalling that it's gone on so long," he told Dunphy.  "I think it's dehumanizing, it's cruel, it's this kind of warehousing of people and families, children.  We're just trying to show a little sense of that."

He added, "What's interesting about it is, when you talk to people who have been through the system, it's the effects the system has on them, especially children and young people long term.  There's a lot of basic human rights that are denied them."

The writer also revealed that one of the characters in the series is played by a woman who spent eight years in direct provision.  She was moved to tears by the fate of another character, which reflected her own experience, he said.

You can listen to the full interview HERE.  The first episode of Taken Down is available to view on catch up and RTE Player.  It continues on RTE One next Sunday night at 9.30pm.

Read more: Taken Down builds on success of Love/Hate with an even bigger opening episode as 445,000 viewers tune in

Taken Down review: 'A bone-shaker of a final scene proves Carolan is as fond of pulling the rug out from under his audience as ever' 

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