Pride and blatant prejudice

Patrick Freyne

Darren "not a racist" Scully, the now ex-Mayor of Naas who planned to openly discriminate against black Africans, probably first realised he was in tricky territory when he heard his supporters on 4FM's Late Show.

There was Brendan, who insisted public servants had to sign an oath not to discuss houses given to those from "sub-Saharan Africa". ("I don't know if that's an urban myth . . ." said host Niall Boylan doubtfully.)

And then there was the man with an Afrikaans accent who claimed apartheid hadn't been a problem in South Africa until foreigners gave previously happy black people notions.

On The Right Hook the next day the lunacy continued with Ted Neville of the Irish Solidarity Party ranting against immigration, despite once being an illegal immigrant in America.

Scully might not have seemed quite as insane as some but, as Boylan observed, his actions still fitted the dictionary definition of racism.

"I suppose," admitted Scully warily, "if you want to use the dictionary for that term."

Scully did not want to use the dictionary definition, racists don't use dictionaries, offended as they are by the mingling of black words on white paper.

His biggest problem was that he misunderstood his own position. He wasted a lot of time arguing the wrong point -- that he wasn't racist -- when what he really seemed to believe was that there was nothing wrong with racism.

"You're stance is racist," explained Clem Ryan slowly and carefully during a very thorough interview on KFM's Kildare Today, "because you're making a decision which is predicated completely on a person's skin colour, rather than judging each individual on their merits."

But Scully just wasn't getting it. He wasn't even getting his own points. After repeatedly insisting that he wouldn't deal with any black Africans because of the bad behaviour of some black Africans, he said: "I don't single out any groups or individuals in my work on the councils."

"You've just done that now, in fairness," said Ryan.


Later Scully entered strangely pedantic territory. "If I need you to make representations on my behalf," asked Ryan, "can I be assured that you will make that phone call based on its merits and not because I'm black, blue, pink, yellow or white?"

"Sorry, I don't know what colour you are over the telephone," said Scully.

"Pardon?" said Ryan, a sensible man faced with a bizarre, career-suicidal politician.

"I don't know what colour anybody is over the telephone," repeated Scully, future author of A Pragmatic Guide to Discrimination ("Tip 1: It's hard to be racist on the phone").

Anyway, Ryan continuously insisted that as a public representative Scully wasn't entitled to pick and choose who he represented. "[You weren't] elected on a platform of representing . . . people only of a particular colour," he said. "You're not a member of the Ku Klux Klan."

"You're going down this road again of dangerous language there," said Scully, who, as you know, has never used dangerous language. Poor fellow, all he wanted to do was discriminate against black Africans and people kept using the "R" word at him. It was prejudice against people who wanted to be prejudiced! It was racist-ist!

Earlier in the week, billionaire JP McManus stopped short of using the word "tax-exile-ist" when being questioned on This Week. He would clearly have preferred that, in a week dominated by draconian cut-backs, people would notice his generous charity work rather than how much money he gave the exchequer.


So he rejected the term "tax-exile" (he probably prefers "differently tax-statused") and even seemed slightly put out at having to go through the whole rigmarole of living elsewhere.

"If I'm not given the time here I have to find somewhere else to spend the time," he said, as though he might skulk off to his orbiting gold space mansion at any moment and then we'd be sorry.

On Monday, Orla Barry did a lovely interview with novelist, Alzheimer-sufferer and right-to-die campaigner Terry Pratchett. He leavened a discussion of illness and euthanasia with philosophical good humour and the news that fans have signalled romantic interest by dropping keys in his beer.

"It ruins the pint," he said, disapprovingly.