Monday 21 May 2018

'Indian' slur not racist - DUP MP

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Shona Murray

Unionists have refused to defend former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) deputy leader John Taylor after he referred to the Taoiseach a "typical Indian".

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he wouldn't class the comment as "racist", but told the Irish Independent it was "inappropriate". However, he said Mr Taylor had since "sought to defend himself".

Mr Taylor, who serves as a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Kilclooney, later tweeted: "I am certainly no racist and in particular have an admiration for Indians."

Former UUP MP Tom Elliot said Mr Taylor did not speak for the UUP and admitted the comments were "offensive", but added "politics is offensive".

A former colleague of the life-long peer, Mr Elliot said Mr Taylor was "outspoken" and "always says it as he sees it", but he said the words were "unreasonable" and "not part of today's society".

It was the second time Mr Taylor referred to Mr Varadkar's Indian heritage in a derogatory way. Last year he withdrew a tweet after he described the Taoiseach as "the Indian".

On Monday, the Taoiseach was criticised by the DUP for not giving prior notice about a visit to parts of Northern Ireland represented by the party's MP David Simpson. Mr Varadkar visited Lurgan and Warrenpoint after meeting EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Dundalk. He was accused of breaching protocol and acting in a discourteous manner - a charge that has been rebuffed by Dublin.

In response, Mr Taylor tweeted, "Typical Indian."

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil he assumed the tweet came from a "parody account".

Mr Donaldson said it was a "pretty poor state of affairs" that the PSNI, and not the Irish Government, who informed local representatives that the Taoiseach was visiting the North.

Irish Independent

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