A FIANNA Fail senator accused of being racist has withdrawn comments in which he said he insisted on getting into taxis with Irish drivers because "non-nationals" don't know where they are going.
Paschal Mooney denied "being discriminatory" but his comments prompted an angry response from immigrant groups.
"We agree with Senator Mooney's assertion – he is not being discriminatory, he is being racist," said Killian Forde, CEO of the Integration Centre.
Mr Mooney made his comments while debating taxi regulations in the Seanad yesterday – but later withdrew them.
He said: "There is more than anecdotal evidence that people are driving taxis around the city who do not know one street from the other. I have experienced it myself.
"I am not being discriminatory when I say it has nearly always been non-nationals who do this. I prefer to go to a local taxi driver, rather than somebody who is obviously a non-national.
"My decision has nothing to do with the colour of his or her skin but is a response to my personal experience of hailing taxis from Connolly Station only to discover that the taxi drivers did not know how to get to Merrion Square."
However, he later withdrew the comments and said they may have been misinterpreted.
"I wish to unreservedly withdraw the remarks and apologise for any offence caused. I fully acknowledge and respect the contribution of non-nationals to the life of Ireland. My remarks should not have been interpreted as discriminatory," he said.