'Airy fairies' | 

Michael Healy-Rae refuses to apologise to Leo Varadkar in row over 'homophobic' remark

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said he will not apologise for telling Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to “go with the airy fairies"

Philip Ryan and Ciara O'Loughlin

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has suggested Michael Healy Rae’s use of the term “airy fairy” was a homophobic remark.

Asked about his Dail clash with the Kerry TD, Mr Varadkar said: “I certainly haven't lost any sleep about it, I've just asked to reflect on it, I didn't ask him to apologise.”

“I think the truth is all of us from time to time, can say things that might be racist, homophobic or misogynistic. That can happen and I think when it's called out that people should acknowledge this.

"But, you know, I'm not a fan of pile-ons or the cancel culture,” he added.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said he will not apologise for telling Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to “go with the airy fairies”.

The pair had a bitter row in the Dáil yesterday when Mr Healy-Rae asked about the Fine Gael leader’s strong statement against a proposed liquid gas at Ballylongford on the Shannon Estuary in Kerry.

Mr Varadkar looked visibly upset after the Kerry TD said: “You’re no man to look down on me. I’m elected here every bit as good as you are.

"Off you go, with the airy fairies and we’ll see what good it will do you.”

The TD has been called out for using the phrase as it can be used as a derogatory term for a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

However, speaking to Kerry Radio this morning, he said he will not apologise, and only believes that Mr Varadkar got upset to deter from the original question about the liquid gas at Ballylongford.

“He might have let on that he got upset because it suited him. He knows in his heart and soul that I meant nothing by it, everyone inside the chambers knows that,” Mr Healy-Rae said.

"You cannot apologise or say you are sorry when you purposely didn't do anything wrong. I definitely didn’t insult anybody.”

The Kerry TD said nobody can tell him what he said was an insult.

He added: “Because everybody knows that other times in the Dáil I wasn't insulting anyone because it’s not an insult by me, by all the governments that ever was when they are coming along in two months time and introducing further carbon taxes I was highlighting issues like that and I use the words ‘airy-fairy.”

Asked by the presenter if the issue was because he used the words ‘airy fairy’ as a noun, rather than saying Mr Varadkar had ‘airy fairy’ ideas, Mr Healy-Rae said he wouldn't understand the difference between the two.

The Kerry TD then said that he himself could have gotten offended because the Tánaiste said he didn’t understand what he was saying, which he could have taken as a personal dig, because he has dyslexia.

"But I know that's not what he meant,” Mr Healy-Rae said. “And he knows in his heart and soul that I didn’t mean anything about anyone's private business.”

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