Lord John Kilclooney claims why he referred to vice-President elect Kamala Harris as “the Indian” was because he “did not know her name”.
The former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) referred to vice-President elect Harris as “the Indian” in a tweet on Monday morning.
“What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?,” he tweeted.
The Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Fowler, told Lord Kilclooney he should “retract and apologise.”
Lord Kilclooney denied the comment was racist.
“Whilst Biden is proud to be Irish and Harris is rightly proud of her Indian background I certainly withdraw my reference to her as an Indian as it seems to have upset some people,” tweeted Lord Kilclooney.
“I did not know her name and identified her with the term Indian. Most people understood. Racist NO.”
The original tweet had not been deleted at the time this article was published.
The tweet in question resulted in a tsunami of condemnation from high profile people such as Piers Morgan, Stan Collymore and UUP MLA, Doug Beattie.
Many other asked Lord Kilclooney to delete the tweet and some went a step further demanding Twitter issue him with a ban.
Senator Kamala Harris was confirmed vice-President elect when her running mate, Joe Biden, was projected to become the 46th President of the United States on Saturday.
“John, Kamala Harris is an American. And the constitution is clear about what happens,” said BBC Radio Ulster Talkback presenter, William Crawley,
Labour MP, Wes Streating, said: “He did it before to Leo Varadkar and now he’s done it to Kamala Harris.
“This sort of racism would be unacceptable from anyone, but from a member of the House of Lords it beggars belief. Action must be taken.”
SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan tweeted: “You are a disgrace. Catch yourself on.”
Vice-President elect Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born India and was a top biomedical scientist – Ms. Gopalan, 70, died of colon cancer in 2009.
Ms. Gopalan moved to the USA in 1958 when she was 19 years-old.
Vice-President elect Harris’ father, Donald J. Harris, was an economist and professor emeritus at Stanford University.
Mr. Harris was born in Jamaica but holds dual Jamaican and US citizenship.
Vice-President elect Harris parents separated when she was seven years-old.