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SF stands by Holohan after backlash over Leo comments


Sinn Fein councillor Paddy Holohan said Leo Varadkar was ‘separated from the history of this country’. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Sinn Fein councillor Paddy Holohan said Leo Varadkar was ‘separated from the history of this country’. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins


Sinn Fein councillor Paddy Holohan said Leo Varadkar was ‘separated from the history of this country’. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

A former UFC fighter turned councillor has said remarks about the Taoiseach that were seen as racist and homophobic were "misinterpreted".

However, Paddy 'The Hooligan' Holohan, a South Dublin county councillor representing Sinn Fein, still has the backing of party leader Mary Lou McDonald after apologising for the comments.

In an episode of his own No Shame podcast with director Terry McMahon, the Tallaght South councillor spoke about Mr Varadkar and admitted he has a lot of "quarrels with this man".

"He's so separated not even from society now, but he's so separated from the history of this country," Mr Holohan said.

"I'm for immigration, I'm for bringing people into the country."

He then noted that Mr Varadkar's lineage is not part of the "history of this country".

"Leo Varadkar's blood obviously runs to India, you know, so his great-grandfather is not part of the history of this country, you know what I mean?

"Now, Leo obviously is, he's an Irish citizen, but his passion doesn't go back to the times when our passion goes back to."

On another podcast, published two days ago, Mr Holohan interviewed former political prisoner Ibrahim Halawa. In it, the councillor said that he wants a "family man" to run the country.

"We need people running the country, and not against Leo or anything like that, but to me I want a family man running the country," Mr Holohan said.


"Someone that knows what it's like to have kids, maybe hopefully boys and girls, so when you're creating the policies and stuff that's going to go on, that you're like right, it makes sense, I know what it's like to collect my kids from school so I know what school time traffic is like."

Sinn Fein urged the councillor to apologise, saying that his statements "caused offence, and are quite obviously not the views of Sinn Fein".

"I would like to apologise as my comments may have offended people as I of course did not intend to do so," Mr Holohan wrote on social media several hours later.

"My comments have been misinterpreted and not in any way meant the way they have been portrayed."

Ms McDonald yesterday said that she was "satisfied" with his apology and said that she will not be removing him from the party or asking him to step down.

"I think that Paddy has apologised for the remarks and that that was the appropriate thing to do," she said.

"I think all of us know that every citizen and every person is entitled to run for public office in this country and to aspire to the office of An Taoiseach.

"That's the position, Paddy has apologised and of course that was the absolutely correct thing to do."

She said that Mr Holohan is "frustrated" that his comments gave the impression that he holds "other views".

"I think that Paddy is probably frustrated at the fact that he is known to be a very approachable, very open-minded and a very kind person and unfortunately the remarks that he has made have given the impression that he holds other views," she said.

Mr Varadkar said: "I understand that he has apologised in the last few hours and you know that's good enough for me."

However, he added that there is a "wider issue".

"I think anyone in Ireland who is from a minority background - whether mixed-race or gay or lesbian - has experienced some form of racism or homophobia in their lives," he said.

"I am fortunate in that I haven't received too much of that."