Lenihan retracts 'fascist' remark


MINISTER OF State for Integration Conor Lenihan has retracted his use of the word “fascist” in the Dáil when he heckled Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar during Wednesday’s session.

Mr Lenihan had said that Mr Varadkar wanted to segregate immigrant children. Fine Gael also claimed he described Mr Varadkar as a fascist.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd alleged that Mr Lenihan had used the Nazi salute when Fine Gael complained about his interjection, a charge that Mr Lenihan rejected.

When Mr O’Dowd raised the issue in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Lenihan agreed to retract the words.

“I am delighted to retract here on the record. I am also delighted Deputy Varadkar is not as precious as his colleagues over there,” he said.

Olwyn Enright of Fine Gael responded by saying it was a “fairly half-hearted withdrawal”.

Earlier Mr Lenihan, speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Pat Kenny, said that his comments were directed at Mr Varadkar because comments that he made about immigration were similar to those made by the British National Party (BNP).

“I obviously do not think that Leo Varadkar is a fascist although he advocates policies that are close to the BNP,” he said.

He was referring to Mr Varadkar’s suggestion to give unemployed immigrants an incentive to return to their home countries. Mr Varadkar has rejected any suggestion that his views or policy ideas are close to those of the BNP.