Fine Gael has defended the reinstatement of a party councillor who was forced to resign for previously refusing to represent black Africans, saying he has “paid his price”.
The former mayor of Naas, Darren Scully, has been welcomed back into the Fine Gael fold for next year’s local elections and says he will now represent all parts of the community.
Party general secretary Tom Curran said the time had come to forgive Mr Scully and “move on”.
Mr Scully had said on local radio in 2011 that he would no longer represent “black Africans” in his community because of “aggression” he claimed he received when dealing with them.
The Kildare councillor resigned as mayor and apologised for making the remarks. The party whip was then removed from him, effectively expelling him from Fine Gael, and he has since been an Independent elected official, until yesterday.
However, advocates for immigrants questioned what kind of message was being sent to Ireland’s new citizens by reappointing Mr Scully to the government party.
Killian Forde, CEO of the Integration Centre, said: “Fine Gael had a clear opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to anti-racism and diversity in their own organisation. With this decision they send a clear message that racist remarks by elected representatives are okay with them.
“[Justice] Minister Alan Shatter has done a fine job in conferring citizenship on tens of thousands of new Irish citizens. What sort of mixed message does this send from Fine Gael to these new Irish citizens?”
Mr Scully yesterday told KFM radio: “I am fully available to all of the people of this county no matter where they come from and who they are. I will listen to their points of view, the cases they make in a very honest and open way.”
It was now up to voters whether he was re-elected next year, he added.
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