Belfast Telegraph

Kilclooney defends Varadkar 'Indian' tweet - 'an Irish politician would not have done what he did'

Lord Kilclooney
Lord Kilclooney
A tweet responding to a BBC Newsline article about Leo Varadkar's visit to Northern Ireland.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Lord Kilclooney has defended referring to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a "typical Indian" in a tweet.

After facing a barrage of criticism for once again referring to Mr Varadkar's race, he said he was "certainly no racist" and was pointing out how Mr Varadkar had upset unionists more than his predecessors had.

He said he did not intend to withdraw the tweet.

"An Irish politician would not have done the same," he added saying he helped Indians "very often" on matters such as visas.

"But VARADKAR seems to delight in provoking Unionists. This I regret as he is damaging the good North/South relations which followed the Belfast Agreement."

The peer sparked a Twitter racism row when he described Leo Varadkar as a "typical Indian" after the Taoiseach's visit to Northern Ireland yesterday.

He was reacting after the BBC reported that DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Mr Varadkar's visit showed disrespect, and was "outside normal protocol" as local politicians had not been informed about it beforehand.

Mr Varadkar is the son of an Indian immigrant from Mumbai. His mother is from Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

There was outrage on the social network throughout the night with many saying they would report the comment. But despite the barrage, Lord Kilclooney continued to defend his actions.

"The Indians are a great race," he added.

"You fail to understand that racially he is half Indian and legally he is Irish. Some day you will learn to know the difference in these terms.

"Entering the UK by any foreign politician without prior notice is a royal breach of existing courtesies and in this case a total provocation of unionists. He continues to undo the good north-south relations which were created by the Belfast Agreement."

Robin Swann, leader of the UUP which Lord Kilclooney was once a deputy leader and no longer a member slammed the tweet saying the peer did not speak on his behalf.

"Excuse the last time was due to a restricted number of characters and being unable to spell a name - this time there is NO excuse!"

Last November Lord Kilclooney found himself heavily criticised referring to Mr Varadkar as "the Indian". He claimed he used the term as shorthand for the Taoiseach as he "couldn't spell his name" and given Twitter's restrictive character limit.

While he said he withdrew the remark for the "upset and misunderstanding caused", the tweet remains on the lord's timeline.

That time the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards dismissed a complaint saying a member's opinion, or the way they express themselves, did not fall within the scope of the code of conduct for the lords.

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