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.
Lord Kilclooney admits his "typical Indian" tweet about the Taoiseach was a mistake.— Mark Simpson (@BBCMarkSimpson) May 4, 2018
But the 80-year-old peer is not retiring from Twitter. pic.twitter.com/S6FHgfZYKG
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."
I am certainly no racist and in particular have an admiration for Indians.a member of the British/Indian APPG only yesterday I had a reply from 10 Downing St asking for a relaxation of visas for Indians. My point was that the PM had upset Unionists more than Irish PMs had!— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) April 30, 2018
Typical Indian was meant to be a comparison with an Irishman who would have a better understanding of Unionist opinion in Northern Ireland— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) April 30, 2018
You still do not understand the difference between being Irish by nationality as Varadkar is and being half Indian by race as Varadkar has confirmed he is. Nothing racist about it - simply factual.— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) April 30, 2018
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!"
.@KilcloneyJohn's 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!— Robin Swann MLA (@RobinSwannUUP) April 30, 2018
https://t.co/65na4x5met— Mike Nesbitt (@mikenesbittni) April 30, 2018
While I engage positively in a SDLP event remembering John Hume, Lord Kilclooney refers to the Taoiseach in what I can only interpret as a racist comment, tweeting "typical Indian" #NotInMyName
Lord Kilclooney's tweet is a racial slur, insulting of not only the Taoiseach and the Irish people, but of Indian people, too. There is no explaining this one away like last time.— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) April 30, 2018
The HoL needs to address his conduct: it is deliberate, calculated disrespect.
Reducing someone to their race denies their humanity & agency and lays prejudice bare. Every generation has to stand against racism and this pound-shop bore should know better by now. https://t.co/xTAiPhdmkd— Emmet McDonough-Brown (@EmmetMcDB) April 30, 2018
Given that India is several hundred times the size of Ireland (by population) and far more diverse, it is statistically more likely that there is a typical Irish person than a typical Indian and even that @KilclooneyJohn is it.— Malachi O'Doherty (@malodoherty) May 1, 2018
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.
Simon Coveney is stirring things up . Very dangerous non statesman like role! Clearly hoping to undermine the Indian— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) November 23, 2017
Belfast Telegraph Digital