Fine Gael Councillor and former mayor of Naas, Darren Scully, has found himself at the centre of further controversy after the politician decided to wade into the debate surrounding the ongoing refugee crisis.
Scully made claims about the death of Aylan Kurdi in a letter to this weekend’s Sunday Times. Referencing quotes from other refugees and reports by The Daily Mail, the councillor claimed that the child’s father was not fleeing war as he had been living with his family in Turkey. Abdullah Kurdi, who has returned to Syria since the death of his wife and children, has also faced claims he was a people smuggler which he strongly denies.
Abdullah Kurdi said in the aftermath of the incident he had been forced to take over control of the boat after the man steering it, a Turk, had leapt overboard when it got into trouble.
“If I was a people smuggler, why would I put my family in the same boat as the other people? I paid the same amount to the people smugglers.”
Mr Kurdi has blamed Turkish people smugglers for the incident.
Scully went on to say that “when you are living and working in a safe country, you are not fleeing for your life.” Turkey has seen an increase in violent incidents and has been criticised for its continued decline in freedom, coupled with conflicts on its borders. Today the leader of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish political party Selahattin Demirtas warned that the country is on the verge of a civil war.
If I put my children in a small boat without life-jackets and tried to set sail to a nearby island I would be rightly called an idiot. McCarthy tells the terrible story regarding the death of Aylan. However, she does not mention that the children’s father had been living and working in Turkey for three years.
He was not fleeing war, as his family had been living with him in a safe country. He had tried to get across to Greece before. To me it seems obvious that when you are living and working in a safe country, you are not fleeing for your life.
Darren Scully, Naas, Co.Kildare
Today TheJournal.ie picked up the story regarding the Sunday Times letter, confirming that it was Councillor Scully who wrote it. However, the website could not reach him for comment and a Fine Gael representative said it “would not be appropriate for Fine Gael to speculate” on the death of Aylan Kurdi.
While there was considerable anger regarding Scully’s letter on social networks today, many comments below TheJournal.ie article supported the Fine Gael politician’s words. Scully also found favour with right-wing anti-immigrant party Identity Ireland, whose supporters praised his letter.
This is not the first time that Scully has come to national attention for his beliefs.
In 2008 he made unsubstantiated claims that teenagers were looking to get pregnant in order to obtain free housing, standing over his comments despite criticism from experts.
In 2011 he gained global notoriety for refusing to represent “black Africans”. Scully resigned as Naas mayor and in 2012 he lost the Fine Gael party whip. However he was restored to the party in 2013 and ran in the 2014 local elections, gaining a position of the fifth count of the votes.
Young Fine Gael has called on Scully to resign.
The Young Fine Gael National Executive condemns the comments by Cllr. Darren Scully and calls on him to resign his membership of the party.
— Young Fine Gael (@yfg) September 15, 2015