Irish ties to Australia 'couldn't be greater', embassy claims following Minister's 'racist' remarks
Irish people will be "warmly welcomed" in Australia, the country's Embassy in Dublin has claimed following a Minister's controversial remarks.
Australia's Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz has apologised after she was accused on social media of making "anti-Irish" and "racist remarks."
Ms Kairouz was speaking on 9News as she warned the public about scam artists who are going to people's homes and offering to carrying out repairs but are then leaving as soon as they get paid, without doing the promised work.
She said: "They know where to go, who to target, as soon as they get cash in their hands, they're gone.
"If anybody knocks on your door that has an Irish accent, automatically ask them to leave."
Following anger over her remarks, the Australian Embassy in Dublin has reassured people they are welcome and appreciated.
They said in a statement: "Australia has a warm and friendly relationship with Ireland, and continues to welcome the significant numbers of Irish people who choose to visit or migrate to Australia.
"Over more than two centuries, people of Irish birth or heritage have made a hugely positive contribution to Australia, and continue to do so.
"This was acknowledged recently by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, MP, who told President Higgins in Canberra, 'The warmth of the ties and family history between Australia and Ireland couldn't be greater.
"'Australia is the most Irish country in the world (apart from Ireland, of course)...'"
The embassy's spokesman said he is aware of Ms Kairouz's remarks and stressed that they are not reflective of the general attitudes of Australian people.
He said: "The Australian Embassy is aware on comments made by the Hon Marlene Kairouz, MP, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation in the Government of Victoria, that have been widely reported in the Irish media.
"The Embassy notes that Minister Kairouz has subsequently issued a statement on Twitter, acknowledging that her words had been poorly chosen, and apologising for the offence caused by her comments.
"The best way to sum up the attitudes of the Australian people towards the Irish is again to quote the Prime Minister, 'You're so warmly welcomed. You're among friends and among family.'"
Minister Kairouz has apologised for her comments.
She said: "Yesterday I made a comment at a scam awareness campaign launch that caused offence to people with Irish heritage.
"Recent scammers have been backpackers from the UK and Ireland and I was giving this info to the public. I admit I delivered this message poorly.
"I sincerely apologise for causing offence and my poor choice of words."