John Taylor - now Lord Kilclooney - has said he was using "shorthand for an Indian surname which I could not spell"
A member of the House of Lord has been criticised for describing the Taoiseach as "the Indian".
John Taylor - now Lord Kilclooney, and a former Ulster Unionist Party MP - made the comment in a tweet about Simon Coveney.
He claimed the Foreign Affairs Minister was "stirring things up" in relation to Brexit, and that he was "clearly hoping to undermine the Indian".
Simon Coveney is stirring things up . Very dangerous non statesman like role! Clearly hoping to undermine the Indian— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) November 23, 2017
The former UUP deputy leader later claimed he used the term as shorthand because he didn't know how to spell Varadkar.
Taylor suggested: "I should have said PM and not used Indian as shorthand for his name which I must learn to spell correctly.
"The new Irish PM is 100 per cent Irish and has an Indian name which I am still trying to spell! Term Indian used for shorthand as I am certainly no racist as my past confirms."
Certainly not racism but shorthand for an Indian surname which I could not spell.— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) November 23, 2017
Responding to Mr Taylor's comments, former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt tweeted: "Lord Kilclooney does not speak for me. I think calling an Taoiseach 'the Indian' is appalling.
"If he was still a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and I was still Leader, it wouldn’t end well. But for me, it didn’t anyway."
Current leader Robin Swann insisted Mr Taylor is not a member of the party "and hasn't been for sometime [...] sits as a Cross Bencher & speaks for himself".
Mr Taylor's tweet also drew criticism from Senator Catherine Noone, who described the comment as 'disgraceful'.
Disgraceful comment John. Leo is 100% Irish as you well know. The mind boggles.— Sen Catherine Noone (@senatornoone) November 23, 2017
Mr Taylor spoke to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, after earlier tweets suggested that Donegal should consider joining the UK.