Former senior Ulster Unionist Lord Kilclooney has claimed he is “no racist” amid strong backlash for his “typical Indian” tweet.
A member of the British House of Lords has claimed he is not a racist after branding Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar a “typical Indian.” Lord Kilclooney, a former senior Ulster Unionist, made the comment on Twitter in response to a tweeted story from BBC Newsline with the headline “DUP: Varadkar’s visit to Northern Ireland showed ‘disrespect.’”
Lord Kilclooney, formerly known as John Taylor, is refusing to delete the tweet, stating that he is “no racist.”
Typical Indian— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) April 30, 2018
The 80-year-old claims that Varadkar is "most provocative" and has "misunderstood the views of many unionists."
“It is not racially abusive as he himself has confirmed he is half Indian,” Kilclooney added in a follow-up tweet.
Sorry you support the arrival of the Irish PM into the UK without exercising the existing courtesies. He continues to provoke and embitter the majority unionists in Northern Ireland. Time he began to reflect the damage he is doing to North/South relations. He does not understand.— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) April 30, 2018
It is not racially abusive as he himself has confirmed he is half Indian. That is great and not to be dismissed as the Indians are a great race. However he has damaged North/South relations by being continually offensive and provocative to the Unionist majority in NIreland.— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) April 30, 2018
“That is great and not to be dismissed as the Indians are a great race. However, he has damaged North/South relations by being continually offensive and provocative to the Unionist majority in NIreland.”
Taoiseach Varadkar commented on the tweet in the Dáil (Irish parliament) claiming that he initially thought it came from a parody account.
He was backed by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and former Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Joan Burton who both condemned the language used.
BREAKING: @MaryLouMcDonald & @joanburton round on @kilclooneyjohn for his "very obnoxious and racially charged remarks". Taoiseach @campaignforleo is aware of the racist tweet - "I did see it. I actually had thought that was a parody account but seemingly it is not!" pic.twitter.com/81p9JS2b4z— RTÉ Politics (@rtepolitics) May 1, 2018
This is the second time that the Lord Kilclooney has commented on Varadkar's race, referring to him as “the Indian” in November 2017. He later withdrew this tweet but a complaint to the House of Lords standards commissioner was dismissed.
Ulster Unionist party leader Robin Swann has stated that Lord Kilclooney does not represent him tweeting that the peer “doesn’t speak for me.”
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long claimed Kilclooney was “an embarrassment” and said that the comment was a "slur on all Indian people with his use of the word typical."
Lord Kilclooney's tweet is a racial slur, insulting of not only the Taoiseach and the Irish people, but of Indian people, too. There is no explaining this one away like last time.— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) April 30, 2018
The HoL needs to address his conduct: it is deliberate, calculated disrespect.
Taoiseach Varadkar was born in Dublin to an Irish mother and an Indian father. He was elected as leader of the Fine Gael party and took on the role of Taoiseach in June 2017.
In September 2017, former deputy leader of the UUP Kilclooney also claimed that Nationalists were "not equal" to Unionists in Northern Ireland.
“Everyone, Nationalist and Unionist, must have equal opportunity. Politically Unionists are the majority and so the two are not equals,” Lord Kilclooney wrote.
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