Taoiseach Varadkar accepts apology from Sinn Féin councillor for 'family man' comments

Sinn Fein councillor Paddy Holohan made remarks about Taoiseach Varadkar that he says have been "misinterpreted" as homophobic and racist.

Varadkar on left Sinn Féin Paddy Holohan on right

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has accepted an apology made by Sinn Féin councillor Paddy Holohan following remarks he made an indirect reference to Varadkar’s sexuality, which also read as misogynistic, by saying that he would prefer a “family man” to lead the country.

Mr Holohan also commented on Varadkar’s heritage saying that the Taoiseach was “separated” from Irish history as a result of his Indian heritage.

Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald earlier said councillor Holohan had done the right thing by apologising and that he would not be leaving the party.

Paddy Holohan, a former UFC fighter, tweeted an apology over the comments made on his podcast which “may have offended people”. He had been told by Sinn Fein that he should apologise.

He tweeted:

“Hi All, I would like to take a minute to address comments that were made on my podcast.

“Firstly, 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.”

On Thursday, Taoiseach Varadkar responded to the Sinn Féin councilor’s apology:

“Well, I understand that he has apologised in the last few hours and, you know, that’s good enough for me.”

“But, you know, in terms of the wider issue I think anyone in Ireland who’s from a minority background, whether mixed-race or gay or lesbian, has experienced some form of racism or homophobia in their lives,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I am fortunate in that I haven’t received too much of that. I know it’s been a lot worse for a lot many other people.”

Following Holohan’s remarks, Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou McDonald said she did not believe Mr Holohan should resign as councillor and that he would not be removed from the party.

Earlier this week, she insisted that Mr Holohan apologise for his comments which he has now done.

“I think he’s apologised and that was the correct thing to do. I mean what do you do when you misspeak, when you make a mistake or when you cause offence? You apologise for the remarks,” Ms McDonald said.

“I think that’s the correct thing to do. I think it’s the only reasonable and acceptable thing to do.”

She added: “And certainly for the party, as you know we have been very active with respect to not just marriage equality but the rights of the LGBT community and others and we pride ourselves as an organisation that’s open and inclusive. And Paddy knows that and he’s a part of that.”

UPDATE: January 17, 14:00

Sinn Féin announced that councillor Paddy Holohan has been suspended from the party with immediate effect while a disciplinary process begins in the wake of a JOE.ie report which revealed “that Mr Holohan also suggested on the same podcast that “loads” of underage girls were having sex with men and then blackmailing them for sums of money up to €10,000.”

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