‘Ask them to leave’ – Australian politician causes outrage over ‘racist’ comments about Irish people

‘Ask them to leave’ – Australian politician causes outrage over ‘racist’ comments about Irish people

A SENIOR Australian politician has infuriated the Irish community Down Under after advising homeowners to turn anyone from Ireland away if they knock on their door.

Marlene Kairouz – Australia’s Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation – made her controversial comments to local station 9 News Melbourne.

Her statement, broadcast on Australian television, came during a segment in which homeowner Thelma described being conned out of thousands of dollars by men who offered to fix her roof.

Locals were warned to dismiss anyone offering cash up front or using phrases such as “for today only”.

The reporter of the segment added that men with Irish accents are a “common feature of a lot of these scams” before interviewing Minister Kairouz.

Ms Kairouz then warned her compatriots to turn away anyone from Ireland in the event that they stop off at an Australian home.

"If anybody knocks on your door that has an Irish accent, automatically ask them to leave,” she said.

The 42-year-old’s statement attracted fury on social media, with the Labor Party politician branded “racist” over her anti-Irish sentiment.

Paula Branche wrote on Facebook: “Well Minister, I am an Irish Community Nurse who knocks on many doors every day to provide care for people of all nationalities in this beautiful country.

“Shame on you for your ignorance and sweeping statement.”

Sabrina Fitzpatrick said: “Absolutely no need to slam all Irish people and make racist comments like that.

“The Minister needs to apologise to the hard working Irish people in this country. I am Irish but people say oh are you Scottish all the time. How can they prove that they are Irish?”

While Cíara Ritchie added: “This network should apologise to the Irish community and anyone with Irish friends and family for entertaining this type of blare faced racism.

“How is this different then saying don't open your door to any person of colour or ethnicity? Imagine in this day and age people can be so blind.”

Marlene Kairouz was born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1975 to Lebanese immigrant parents.

On Tuesday, she issued an apology on Twitter, saying: “Yesterday I made a comment at a scam awareness campaign launch that caused offence to people with Irish heritage.

“Recent scammers have been backpackers from the UK & Ireland and I was giving this information to the public.

“I admit I delivered this message poorly. I sincerely apologise for causing offence and my poor choice of words.”

Consumer Affairs Victoria received 207 complaints about traveling con men in 2016/17, costing the state more than $477,000.

The Australian Government is currently running a 15-week campaign across TV, radio, print, cinemas and social media warning homeowners about rogue traders.