Irish PM thought ‘typical Indian’ tweet by British peer came from parody account
Lord Kilclooney, a former member of the Ulster Unionist Party in Northern Ireland who posted the comment, strongly rejected “false accusations of racism” and said he will not withdraw the tweet.Updated: May 02, 2018 18:04 IST
Ireland’s Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who was branded a “typical Indian” on social media by a British peer, on Wednesday said he thought the offending message was from a parody Twitter account.
Lord Kilclooney, a former member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in Northern Ireland, had responded to a BBC headline on Twitter which read: “DUP: Varadkar’s visit to Northern Ireland showed ‘disrespect’“, as he tweeted the words, “Typical Indian”.
“I did see it. I actually thought it was a parody account but seemingly it’s not – it actually is for real. That’s all I’ll say about that,” Varadkar said in a tweet.
Kilclooney, who has been criticised as a racist, strongly rejected “false accusations of racism” and said he would not withdraw the tweet.
“I am certainly no racist and in particular have an admiration for Indians,” the 80-year-old said.
His comments came after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) accused Varadkar of breach of protocol on Monday for visiting the region without informing local elected representatives of his visit to counties Armagh and Down.
The Irish leader stressed that he followed standard protocol by informing the Northern Ireland Office of his visit.
“I can assure anyone that I’m not an invader. I just want to be a good neighbour and I received a very warm welcome in Northern Ireland,” Varadkar had said.
Ireland and Northern Ireland have a long history of political troubles brought to the fore by the ongoing Brexit negotiations which will leave European Union member-state Ireland bordering a non-EU member state - Northern Ireland. The border issue is seen as a major stumbling block in Britain and the EU finalising any exit deal.
Kilclooney has been caught up in a similar racism controversy over Maharashtrian-origin Varadkar in the past.
Last November, he acknowledged that a remark he made about Varadkar had caused “upset and misunderstanding” and withdrew his tweet that referred to the premier as “the Indian”.
“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 a 100 per cent Irish citizen,” he had said at the time.
Varadkar, 39, was born in Ireland to a Mumbai-born father and an Irish mother. In June, 2017, he became Ireland’s first Indian-origin ‘Taoiseach’ or prime minister.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)