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Varadkar concerned over anti-immigration protests

Former taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed concerns over anti-immigration protests and the impact also, as he warned how some people are experiencing racism “for the first time ever”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show, he also said he is worried about the extent to which migration and anti-migrant feelings are becoming a bigger part of politics in Ireland.

He said that while many people are welcoming refugees into their homes and people are grateful for so many international workers, he warned of others who it “seems to bring out hatred”.

“People who don’t look like them, who don’t behave like them. And that brings out a real hatred that has destroyed other countries and destroyed the politics of other countries and I really hope it doesn’t happen here,” Mr Varadkar said.

He spoke of the need for sensitivity saying that while people might take the view they don’t want any more people to come into the country, “we need to be sensitive as to how that sounds to people, particularly people who need to come to our country and people who are people of colour who live here, they have no other home. “

He spoke of a personal experience, where friends say they fear for their mixed race children who are encountering racist attitudes as they go about their daily lives.

“Their kids are Irish,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said immigration is centre stage in the politics in most western countries and it is the nature of politics.

“It was very much what drove the election of Donald Trump,” Mr Varadkar said.

“He was going to build a wall. It didn’t work out. If you look across the water in Britain when anti-migrant sentiment rose, Brexit was a big part of that.”

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that some politicians are exploiting immigration for their own gain in politics.

He said there is a job to do here to explain to people how the rules work and how they are enforced.

The former Fine Gael leader said that he was shocked by the number of TDs who “don’t actually understand the system … how the asylum process works.”

“I think there is a job of information education to do,” he said.

He also said there is a need to stand up to anyone who promotes anger and hatred.

“There is no justification for that in a democratic country.”

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‘No regrets’ over decision to resign as taoiseach

The former taoiseach said that he has “no regrets so far” on his decision to resign from the top job saying it was “definitely” the right one for him.

He said the hardest thing was going through with it as he revealed he “nearly chickened out the night before”.

Mr Varadkar announced his decision to step down as taoiseach and Fine Gael leader last month.

He said it was the right decision for him and he hopes it was the right one for the country also.

He said he always wanted to make sure it was his decision and on his terms.

In relation to the timing of his decision, he said that was a “political calculation” and he came to the conclusion there was a need “for a reset”.

“I think we have a good government. I would like to see it re-elected,” Mr Varadkar said.

“For that to happen, my party has to do a bit better than last time. Gain some seats and I felt there was a better chance of that under a new leader.

“Now that was a hard decision to make to say you are not the right person to bring things forward, but I came to that conclusion.”

He said in politics people speak about political capital and over time that gets eroded because of both time and the decisions you make.

“You can replenish it but that is very, very hard to do,” he said.

“And it was getting to the point where I felt I would get to the point in year or two or three and it was better to pass on the baton now than later.”

He defended the success of the Government saying he led the country through five referendums, including three that were successful.

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