Australian state minister apologises Irish ‘racism’ row
Australian state minister apologises Irish ‘racism‘ row, An Australian state minister has apologized for a “racist” claim that people should beware of anyone arriving at their home with an Irish accent, following a series of household scams involving British and Irish backpackers.
In comments that caused an uproar among the Irish community in Australia, Marlene Kairouz, the consumer affairs minister in the state of Victoria, warned the public at a press conference: “If anybody knocks on your door that has an Irish accent, automatically ask them to leave.”
The claim made headlines across Australia and Ireland and prompted the Australian embassy in Ireland to issue a statement confirming that the two nations enjoy a “warm and friendly relationship”.
On the minister’s Facebook page, Irish residents of Australia called for her resignation and posted images of Irish flags.
“I’m now an Irish GP who does house calls sometimes,” said one comment. “Will I have to start faking an Aussie accent to get in the door?!”
Another said: “I can’t believe that somebody in your position would make such an ignorant statement that is not only racist but discriminating against us Irish people.”
Ms Kairouz issued an apology on Twitter, saying she delivered her message “poorly”.
“Recent scammers have been backpackers from the UK & Ireland & I was giving this info to the public,” she said. “I admit I delivered this msg poorly.”
Daniel Andrews, the state premier, dismissed calls for Ms Kairouz to resign.
“I think it is fair to say that the Minister misspoke and didn’t mean any offence and has apologised accordingly,” he said.
“And that would be, from my point of view, the end of the matter.”
The recent scams in Victoria included one instance in which a 79-year-old woman paid apparent tradesmen thousands of dollars to fix a leaking roof but the men disappeared without doing the job. The woman said the men had Irish accents.