Northern Ireland news

House of Lords initiates first stage in potential disciplinary proceedings against Lord Kilclooney over `Typical Indian' tweet

Lord Kilclooney rejected allegations of racism and insisted he was `pro-Indian'

THE first stage in potential disciplinary proceedings against Lord Kilclooney have been initiated by the House of Lords over his controversial tweet about Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The cross-bench peer caused outrage when he responded to DUP assertions that Mr Varadkar's visit to Northern Ireland had been "outside protocol" by tweeting: "Typical Indian".

He was immediately challenged on his remark, which critics branded racist, and withdrew it a few days later, acknowledging it had been "a mistake".

However, the former UUP deputy leader declined invitations to apologise and insists he is "not racist".

Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile asked the speaker of the Seanad to contact the speaker of the House of Lords "urging him to take appropriate action regarding yet another offensive tweet from a member of the House of Lords regarding An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar".

SDLP assembly member John Dallat was among other complainants.

A spokeswoman for the UK parliament confirmed that several complaints have been made and told The Irish News its Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, has launched an inquiry.

"The Commissioner is conducting a preliminary assessment into complaints received regarding Lord Kilclooney's tweets," she said.

If Ms Scott-Moncrieff finds there has been a breached of the code of conduct, her report will be presented to a sub-committee, which recommends the appropriate sanction.

Under rules which came into force in 2015, peers can be expelled if they are found to have breached the code which all members are expected to uphold.

It requires members to act in the public interest, and in accordance with the seven general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life - selflessness; integrity; objectivity; accountability; openness; honesty and leadership.

No peer has yet been expelled, but have been temporarily suspended for expenses fraud, lobbying scandals and other misconduct.

Peers are also able to step down or retire on other grounds, such as health, old age or other commitments.

Mr Dallat welcomed the Commissioner's move and urged her to move to a full investigation of Lord Kilclooney's conduct.

"He has used language which is not suitable for someone in the House of Lords," he said.

"The House of Lords is not by any means my idea of a model parliament, but I think it will be a test for them to do the right thing.

"He has chosen to be in a position of leadership in society and use of such language is one that all in such positions should deplore as we can not allow it to become the norm."

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