Belfast Telegraph

Video: Kilclooney admits Varadkar 'Indian' tweet a 'mistake'

Lord Kilclooney has said his tweet referring to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a "typical Indian" was a mistake.

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

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.

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 at that time.

However, on Friday the BBC reported he had deleted the tweet and admitted it was a mistake.

He said he could "understand people reaching the conclusion the tweet was racist".

"And that's why I removed it. I am certainly not racist at all. And that why I am so pleased the indian chairman of our organisation in London thanked for the work I have done for the Indian community."

Lord Kilclooney did not apologise but admitted it was a mistake to make the remark.

"A lot of people have sent messages congratulating me on what I have tweeted. You've got to see both sides of the argument. And when I realise I have made a mistake I remove it."

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

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.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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