Northern Ireland news

Twitter has propelled Lord Kilclooney back into the headlines this year

The then John Taylor pictured in 1998 with UUP leader David Trimble and party colleague Ken McGuinness. Picture by Brian Morrison/Pacemaker Press

ONCE one of the most recognisable faces of political unionism, Lord Kilclooney had largely faded from the public eye until a series of controversial tweets this year propelled him back into the headlines.

Recent Twitter outbursts have included a claim that northern nationalists are not equal to unionists.

The former UUP deputy leader, MP, MEP and Stormont minister made the comment in August, adding that the group is entitled to "equality of opportunity".

Following an outcry, the Armagh native said he found Twitter's 140-character limit "restrictive", meaning tweets were "sometimes misconstrued".

He said his point was "when it comes to equality, which is the word used by Sinn Féin, they are a political minority in Northern Ireland".

Earlier this week he was criticised for hitting out at BBC NI for giving "priority to news from the Republic" following coverage of the inquest into the deaths of Cavan woman Clodagh Hawe and her three children at the hands of her husband Alan, who then took his own life.

Last month, Lord Kilclooney was again in the news after referring to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who was born and raised in Dublin, as "the Indian".

He withdrew the remark after saying he "couldn't spell his name".

"In Twitter one is restricted to a limited number of words and so for shorthand I used the term Indian for the new PM in Dublin. This has caused upset and misunderstanding and so I withdraw it. I am no way racist and accept that Varadkar is 100 percent Irish Citizen," he said.

Earlier, in a panel discussion on radio station Ocean FM, he also said Donegal would be better off if it joined the UK, after population decline following partition.

The peer claimed the Republic's most northerly county had been largely ignored by the Dublin government.

"It really is the hinterland of Northern Ireland and it would be great to have it back in with us," he said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news