Leo Varadkar slams 'lack of moral leadership' in US amid George Floyd protests

Leo Varadkar slams 'lack of moral leadership' in US amid George Floyd protests

LEO VARADKAR has hit out at a “lack of moral leadership” in the US as protests and unrest over the killing of George Floyd continue. 

In an address in the Dáil, the Taoiseach also spoke frankly about the “virus” of racism and how many across Ireland continue to experience it in “overt and insidious” forms. 

Mr .Varadkar described how the "world has watched in horror" following the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of police in Minneapolis. 

"It has prompted a palpable outpouring of emotion, and spontaneous expressions of solidarity against the poison of racism,” he said. 

“We've also seen genuine revulsion at the heavy-handed response in some instances towards peaceful protesters and journalists.” 

Mr. Varadkar also appeared to hit out at the US government’s response to the unrest, and a lack of any "words of understanding, comfort of healing” from those in positions of power. 

"We've witnessed the lack of moral leadership or words of understanding, comfort or healing from whence they should have come,” he said. 

The Taoiseach was keen to contrast the Ireland’s approach to policing compared with the US, noting Gardai officers are unarmed and police “based on consent”. 

But while Mr. Varadkar noted that while Ireland has been “enriched by racial diversity” in recent years, racism was still present in modern Irish society. 

He said "We have many examples in our own country - discrimination on the basis of skin colour is pernicious. 

"Sometimes it's overt - discrimination when it comes to getting a job or promotion, or being treated less favourably by public authorities, including sometimes government officials. 

"Sometimes it manifests itself in the form of hate speech online, bullying in school, name-calling in the streets, or even acts of violence." 

Mr. Varadkar was keen to note that racism could often take the form of minor things that might seem “small” but are “nonetheless othering”. 

He went on to highlight a string of examples to the Dáil: 

“Being asked where you came from originally because your skin or surname looks out of place... how often you go back to the country where your mother or father was born in... being spoken to more slowly... cultural and character assumptions based on your appearance... being made to feel just that little bit less Irish than everyone else.” 

He added: "Sadly this is the lived experience for many young people of colour growing up in Ireland today." 

The Taoiseach concluded with a call for the public to use the solidarity garnered through the coronavirus pandemic to fight back against racism and "change the experiences of young people of colour in Ireland for the better".