Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has weighed in on the controversy over US President Donald Trump’s remarks where he told four congresswomen to “go back” to their ancestral countries.
Mr Varadkar said the comment by Mr Trump on Twitter “certainly had the hallmarks of racism” while saying he wasn’t calling Mr Trump a racist.
The Taoiseach also said he has been subject to racist and homophobic abuse online.
The US House of Representative has voted to condemn Mr Trump’ remarks about four Democratic women – Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Mr Trump has insisted in a string of tweets he is not a racist – “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”
Mr Varadkar was asked about Mr Trump’s initial post about the congresswomen during an interview with RTÉ Radio’s Seán O’Rourke and if he viewed it as racist.
The Taoiseach said: “it certainly had the hallmarks of racism. I’m not calling President Trump a racist by any means but some of the things he says appear racist to me.”
It was put to Mr Varadkar that he is the son of an immigrant and he was asked if he has ever been told to “go back to where you came from”.
Mr Varadkar replied: “Have you ever scrolled down my Twitter account to see the things they say? But I have a thick skin I can take it.”
He added that not politician or journalist had ever said it to him but said: “read the comments [on Twitter] there’s plenty of racism and homophobia there. But I’m a big boy. I can take it.”
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