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Leo Varadkar accepts Paddy Holohan's apology following controversial comments

Leo Varadkar accepts Paddy Holohan's apology following controversial comments
Paddy Holohan and Leo Varadkar.

- with reporting by Press Association

Update 6pm: The Taoiseach says he accepts the apology offered by a Sinn Féin Councillor, who said the country should be run by "a family man".

Former MMA fighter Paddy Holohan also questioned Leo Varadkar's connection to Ireland because of his Indian heritage.

Speaking on his No Shame podcast, Mr Holohan said he would prefer a “family man” to be taoiseach.

“We need people 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 policies and stuff that’s going to go on, you’re like: ‘right, it makes sense’.

“I know what it’s like to collect my young fella from school so I know what school time traffic is like.

“When I’m making decisions, I can have an experience of it and bring that into the equation.

“The man that is a family man, that goes to work, looks after his kids, has come up through the system, has experience, maybe is a solicitor as well so has that experience – that’s who should be running the country.

“Someone who knows what the masses of people are going through.”

The West Dublin councillor apologised for the remarks this afternoon, saying he was 'misrepresented'.

Leo Varadkar says he accepts the apology, but admits anyone in Ireland from a minority background has likely experienced racism.

"I think we can never do enough," said the Taoiseach.

"We just need to raise awareness of the issue and make sure that we have a properly united country, whether you are a man or a woman, no matter what background you come from, whether you're a member of the travelling community or not or who you love.

"None of those things should matter in the kind of society I believe in."

Earlier: Councillor and former UFC fighter apologises saying Varadkar comments 'misinterpreted'

A Sinn Féin Councillor has apologised for any offence he caused after saying the country should be run by "a family man".

Paddy Holohan
Paddy Holohan

Tallaght South representative Paddy Holohan said remarks he made in a podcast that “a family man” should be running the country and that Mr Varadkar’s Indian heritage meant he was disconnected from Ireland, were misinterpreted.

On the podcast, called No Shame, he said: "It bugs me to death to understand that he (the Taoiseach) leads this country and that he is so separated not even from society now but he's so separated from the history of this country.

"Now listen. I'm for immigration, I'm for bringing people into the country. I love meeting [people from] new nations.

"Mostly what you'll get is, you'll get people turning up in this country motivated.

"Leo Varadkar’s blood obviously runs to India so his great grandfather is not part of the history of this country."

He also said on the podcast that he would prefer a “family man” to be taoiseach.

“We need people running the country.

Someone that knows what it’s like to have kids, maybe, hopefully, boys and girls, so when you’re creating policies and stuff that’s going to go on, you’re like: ‘right, it makes sense’.

“I know what it’s like to collect my young fella from school so I know what school time traffic is like.

“When I’m making decisions, I can have an experience of it and bring that into the equation.

“The man that is a family man, that goes to work, looks after his kids, has come up through the system, has experience, maybe is a solicitor as well so has that experience – that’s who should be running the country.

“Someone who knows what the masses of people are going through.”

In a post on Twitter, Mr Holohan said: "I would like to apologise as my comments may have offended people as I of course did not intend to do so.

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

"Thank you to the people that know me and have supported me. And understand that I would never make such remarks."

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: "Paddy Holohan has made comments on his podcast that have caused offence, and are quite obviously not the views of Sinn Féin.

"He should apologise and withdraw these remarks.

Speaking in Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald said: “Paddy has apologised and that was absolutely the correct thing to do.”

“He is supporting a woman in terms of this electoral contest. I understand Paddy has apologised and an apology was the correct thing to do. I think Paddy is probably frustrated at the fact that he is known to be a very approachable, very open minded and kind person and unfortunately the remarks that he has made have given the impression that he holds other views.

“This is about circumstances in which people say something wrong and they apologise for it. Anybody can speak out of turn or say something that causes hurt and in those circumstances the correct thing to do is apologise.

“When you mis-speak, when you make a mistake or when you call offence, you apologise for the remarks and I think that was the correct thing to do and the reasonable response.”

Ms McDonald said she did not think that he should resign as a councillor as he had apologised for his remarks.

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