Thursday, 31 January 2013

Paschal Mooney's "non-national" taxi driver remark not isolated example of official ignorance

Here's a little game for you.  Count how many days  elapse before some gobshite gombeen politician  councillor, senator or TD – says something really stupid (drink driving permits for tractor-driving rural types, for instance) or something incredibly Sixties-Deep-South bigoted (below).

The character pictured left goes by the name of Paschal Mooney –  I confess I'd never heard of him until last week.  

 Apparently he is a Fianna Fail senator for Leitrim and "a popular radio broadcaster and journalist" according to the following account from Sligo Today (24th Jan).  

Last week this fine public representative declared he would not get into a taxi driven by "an obvious non-national".   

When people objected to the nature of his remarks, he then "withdrew" any comments that might be "inferred as being discriminatory in any way".  He called it an apology.

Where else would you get a gobshite like this sitting in public office?   Comments that might be "Inferred as being discriminatory"?  

Here's the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word "infer":

verb (infers, inferring, inferred)

[with object] deduce or conclude (something) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

In the light such a definition, Mooney's statement was as explicit as explicit can be – no room for inference.    

Amazing that a public representative and "popular broadcaster" can - one - make such a remark,  and – two – think such an "apology" is acceptable. 

Maybe it is?  At least by the standards we have set in Ireland?

Mooney apologises for non-national taxi driver remark

Leitrim-based Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney issued an apology to the Seanad yesterday for earlier stating he would not get into a taxi driven by an 'obvious non-national'.

The popular radio broadcaster and journalist said, “I made a personal statement to the house in which I withdrew any comments I made that were to be inferred as being discriminatory in any way and apologised. As far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter,” he said last night.

The Irish Times reported that earlier he indicated he would always seek out a local taxi driver rather than a non-national driver because of his concerns they didn’t know their way around.

“I wasn’t the only one who made reference to drivers particularly in Dublin... who didn’t know their way around,” he said last night.

His comments in the Seanad came when the house was discussing the Taxi Regulation Bill, which passed second stage.

Minister of State for Public Transport Alan Kelly took issue with a claim by Seán Barrett (Ind) that proposed new powers to prevent certain taxi drivers from obtaining or retaining public service vehicle licences amounted to double jeopardy.

Taxi Service Standards

Mr Barrett had criticised a provision in the Taxi Regulation Bill to withhold licences from operators convicted of serious criminal offences.

Mr Barrett contended that the wish of parliament to improve taxi service standards should not be used as a back-door method of reintroducing a limit to licence numbers “which gave us an appalling industry in the past”.

The Minister had stated there were about 6,000 taxi drivers who had some form of criminal conviction.

Mr Kelly said an economic analysis had indicated that there was an oversupply of between 13 and 22 per cent in the current taxi fleet.

The Bill represented the most comprehensive review of taxi regulation carried out in the State and he was confident that its new enforcement provisions would be broadly welcomed by the industry and consumers.

National radio stations ae reporting that Senator Mooney is 'unavailable' for comment this morning.

The following, from the same source, is worth a read too:
Show Racism the Red Card statement on Sen Pascal Mooney’s comments:
A year ago, Darren Scully had to resign as Mayor of Naas Town Council, after his position became untenable when he declared that he would not represent constituents from black African backgrounds.

Pascal Mooney took it a step further in his comments in the Senate where he declared that he would not be discriminatory but that he would not be using taxis driven by what he calls ‘non national’ drivers.

He said: ‘ I’ve been in taxis and I have to say, and I am not being discriminatory here, but it’s nearly always non-nationals.  And it’s got to the point where, quite frankly, and I make no apologies for it, that I will now go to a local driver in preference to somebody who’s a non-national – an obvious non-national, and that has nothing to do with the colour of their skin or anything of that nature’.

In a later statement he said: ‘It’s come to my attention that remarks I made about non- nationals during my contribution on the Taxis Regulation Bill 2013 earlier today have been misinterpreted’. He added: ‘I wish to unreservedly withdraw the remarks and apologise for any offence caused.  I fully acknowledge the contribution of non- nationals to the life of Ireland and I clearly stated at the time that my remarks should not have been misinterpreted as discriminatory to anyone’.

No misinterpretation of remarks

Co-ordinator for Show Racism the Red Card Garrett Mullan said this evening: ‘It seems as though Senator Pascal Mooney will need to make yet another statement of clarification.  While on the one hand he says he is not being discriminatory, on the other he says he will choose a ‘local’ driver over an obviously non- national.

At this point, I would state that the number of people who can be described as non- national is extremely small to the point of insignificance.  We can assume he is talking about drivers who are non- Irish born.

If he is to stand over his statement that he would choose a ‘local’ over a non Irish national, that would be racism and discriminatory action on his part.

If we were to infer that Senator Pascal Mooney would not have an issue with a non-Irish taxi driver, that would be somewhat welcome, if only normal.  However his second statement does not clarify this matter.

His second statement states he withdraws his remarks but states: ‘It has come to my attention, that remarks have been misinterpreted’.

There can be no misinterpretation of comments that are now on the Senate record’.

Mr Mullan added: ‘It is unfortunate that the issue of racism as it affects the taxi trade was not addressed in this legislation.  We have many reports of customers skipping by cars, as Pascal Mooney suggested he would do, to avoid obviously non-Irish drivers.  De-regulation of the taxi trade led to an explosion in the number of drivers.  

This measure happened when Senator’s party was in government.  One affect of this was to make earning living in the taxi trade a lot more difficult, to the point where drivers are working excessively long hours just to earn a living.  As to the issue of the issue of driver standards and knowledge of geography, if this is regarded as essential to the trade, which is reasonable, then it should apply to all drivers’.

Mr Mullan concludes: ‘Non Irish nationals represent over 10% of Ireland’s population.  They work in different areas including the taxi trade and they have the right to work without being subject to discrimination.  There have been repeated reports about how racism affects the taxi trade produced by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, NUI Galway and other media reports.  It would be more helpful to the taxi trade if politicians sought to address this issue, rather than exacerbating it with their own anecdotal notions’.


John said...

This is a fine example of Dog whistle politics and here is a definition from Wikipedia and I think it sums up a lot of what passes for political discourse in Ireland on race issues.

"Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is only ever used as a pejorative, because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the dog-whistle messages are frequently themselves distasteful, for example by empathizing with racist attitudes. It is an analogy to dog whistles, which are built in such a way that their high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs, but is inaudible to humans."

Anyone agree????

Anonymous said...

I doubt he put that much thought into it, John. Just another Irish ethnic narcissist. An insensitive asshole. Based on the cheap nylon hairpiece, I see little evidence of self awareness, much less treachery.


The Gombeen Man said...

I have to laugh when I hear the specious "don't know their way around argument". Dublin's a small city, and it woudn't take very long taxiing to know it inside out.

And here is the most ignorant taxi driver I ever came across... A native of our wonderful little city:

Jim Spriggs said...

I avoid taxis like the proverbial plague, doesn't matter a damn who is driving them! I am old enough to remember the vice-like grip they had on the business in the eighties and early nineties, where a fare pick-up was given as if it was the greatest of gifts from the protectionist bastards.
As for the Gombeen Mooney, what else would one expect from a Country and Western Fianna Fáil senator from Leitrim?

anna said...

A Monaghan friend said this about a recent council election in Monaghan:one Irish wouldbe councillor , a Mr Potato O'Head who was campaigning was V anti Pole- ie ' 'let's get rid of Poles in the town , taking jobs' etc- he did not dare put anything like this on posters- but said plenty on this theme on door steps: GROAN- the mess the docile sheep like Irish allowed their 'superiors' to get this country into means one of the best things than happened in the Celtic Tiger Yrs was a good influx of non nationals who work hard, are pleasant, give good service, won't put up with nonsense etc

Anonymous said...

Substitute the word "black" for "non-national" - does it sound racist? Yup!!!

anna said...

BTW- I was in a chinese internet cafe on Talbot St on Sun night- the 2 chinese men were politely trying to get rid of a drunken
Irish woman in her 20's, waving a vodka bottle, No avail- they had to drag her to the door. BUT they are 24 hr- and door was unlocked with No bolt on it- she kept coming back in , swearing, telling them she could smell curry off them (!)WALLOPED one across the face and broke his glasses.These 2 slight Asian men ( she was bigger and fatter than both) pushed her out and then had to try and push the double doors shut against her coming In again- zombie movie stuff. MEANTIME several skanger Irish men in the cafe, sat grinning, doing nothing to help, and told me not to call the police, ' let's just watch- this is good!'-Good? watching a chinese man get walloped? What did they want to enjoy next- him being Glassed with the vodka bottle she was waving- I called Da Fuzz as Store St Garda were just round the corner- they came and arrested her in a minute. 2 spanish people in the cafe thanked me for phoning. And the Irish? if not causing violence- they are watching it as a sport. - YES I'm prejudiced but I LIKE our non nationals - OK they may also have criminal elememts But Nothing like our home grown stuff- and that's why I think 10% non nationals is a great thing for this country.BTW the chinese interent staff assure dme they saw scenes like that Daily- and politely assured me that' not all Irish people are like you.'

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who cannot stand this expression "Non National" ?
I mean one doesnt hear it used in any other country do they ? And its not as if Ireland has recently experienced a sizeable influx of stateless people !

The Gombeen Man said...

You're not alone... it's an awful term.