Northern Ireland news

Lord Kilclooney defends Leo Varadkar 'typical Indian' remark

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

LIFE peer Lord Kilclooney has defended referring to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a "typical Indian".

Former senior Ulster Unionist John Taylor (80) tweeted the remark in response to claims by the DUP that Mr Varadkar's visit to the north yesterday demonstrated "poor manners".

Lord Kilclooney has served at every level of politics and is now a cross bench peer.

Following strong criticism of the tweet, the peer last night insisted his "typical Indian" remark was not offensive.

"It is not racist as he himself has confirmed that he is half Indian," he tweeted.

"The Indians are a great race but he, unlike people of Irish race, does not... (realise) what damage... (he) is doing to North/South relations by his constant provocation of unionists".

Of his latest tweet, Lord Kilclooney told the BBC that Mr Varadkar had been "most provocative" over the course of the Brexit negotiations and had "misunderstood the views of many unionists".

He accused Mr Varadkar of a "dismal lack of knowledge" about Northern Ireland affairs.

Mr Varadkar was born in Dublin to a mother from Co Waterford and a father originally from Mumbai.

In November, Lord Kilclooney was forced to withdraw a tweet in which he described Mr Varadkar as "the Indian".

The peer said the tweet was "not racist" but "shorthand for an Indian surname which I could not spell".

He later wrote that tweet had "caused upset and misunderstanding and so I withdraw it".

"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," he wrote.

"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."

Allicance leader Naomi Long described Lord Kilclooney's tweet as a "racist slur" and said "There is no explaining this one away like last time." 

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