A veteran unionist peer has hit back after Piers Morgan branded him an "old racist dinosaur".
Lord Kilclooney said he would expect nothing more from the controversial broadcaster, saying Mr Morgan was "that type or person". Morgan made the comment after Lord Kilclooney, formerly John Taylor, debated on Twitter about the cricketer Moeen Ali and the merits of him having a place in the England cricket team for the final Ashes Test.
"Times have changed! The England team now needs non English people in order to win Test Games!" tweeted Lord Kilclooney.
When someone pointed out Ali was born and bred in England, the former Ulster Unionist deputy leader responded: "Moeen Ali is proud to be British but racially he is not English. There is a difference between being English and being British!!"
Oh shut up you racist old dinosaur. Moeen Ali’s more English than I am, and I was born in Guildford. https://t.co/LkeqjHLN7w— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 31, 2017
This prompted TV host Morgan to cut in.
"Oh shut up you racist old dinosaur. Moeen Ali’s more English than I am, and I was born in Guildford," he tweeted to his over 6m followers.
Lord Kilclooney responded in turn.
"Piers Morgan is one of a minority who wrongly thinks that England is a country — in fact it is one of four nations in the country known as the UK. I do not reduce myself to his level by insults but simply try to educate him," he tweeted.
"A Chinese born in England is Chinese and not English!
He told the Belfast Telegraph the Daily Mail columnist — "like many nationalists" on the social network — "missed the point".
"He is of course inaccurate," he said.
"There are people born in England that have the right to be British, but Moeen Ali is not English and I suspect if you asked him he would say he is Pakistani.
"People often confuse race with nationality and there is a distinction. They are arrogant they don’t realise England is the country but the nation is the UK, although of course England is the biggest constituent part.
"Of course my point was more to do with the English cricket team and how it should probably be referred to as the ‘British’ cricket team."
Lord Kilclooney said the tweet was meant as a joke and to provoke a reaction.
Asked about Morgan’s racist slur, he responded: "He is that type of person trying to get a reaction and I’d expect nothing more. I wouldn’t trouble myself with that nonsense."
Back in November Lord Kilclooney was forced to deny he was racist after referring to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a tweet as "the Indian".
He later withdrew the remark saying he had used the term as a shorthand rather than use up all the characters allowed by the social media site for a single message.
The veteran politician who was a key architect of the Good Friday Agreement said he enjoyed getting a reaction from Irish republicans on the social network.
"I enjoy correcting nationalists on it but it is ruined by a large percentage of crude and foul-mouthed republicans who do a disservice to ideal of Irish republicanism. Not that I agree with Irish republicanism but it does have an honourable background.
"And of course all these people are all anonymous whereas I declare who I am and what I believe in openly.
"I once tweeted early in the morning ‘where are all my Irish republican friends, do they not get up early in the morning?’ And there was uproar. they have no sense of humour," he joked.