TD Neale Richmond: Gavin Robinson’s reaction to Boris Johnson retweet ‘tad over the top’

An Irish parliamentarian and close ally of Leo Varadkar has accused DUP MP Gavin Robinson of being “a tad over the top” in his reaction over a ‘liked’ tweet claiming Boris Johnson was a “candidate” belonging to Vladimir Putin.

Fine Gael European Affairs spokesman Neale Richmond said he would be happy to speak to the East Belfast MP about the controversial tweet which the TD liked following the French presidential result on Sunday.

The message on the social media network gloated over the defeat of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

But the tweet went on to state: “Sympathies to Vladimir Putin on the defeat of his candidate. Chin up Vlad you have @BorisJohson and @ViktorOrban (Hungarian leader).”

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond retweeted the message after Emmanuel Macron's victory in the French presidential election

It was then liked by Mr Richmond who has since been challenged to remove his endorsement of the tweet.

In response Mr Richmond said: “I think the reaction from Gavin to my liking of what I assumed was a humorous tweet was just a tad over the top.

“Perhaps Gavin could reflect on the awful comments his many party colleagues and supporters have made about my own party leader and deputy leader and the damage such unnecessary and misplaced rhetoric has caused?”

The Fine Gael TD continued: “There is a lot going on in the world right now, Assembly elections, war in Ukraine, rising energy and food costs, rebuilding our respective health services after the pandemic and so much more such as housing, jobs, education and child care.

“Me liking a tweet isn’t the big issue, if it caused such offence, Gavin could have sent me a message or given me a call. I was only in Belfast on Monday for sure and we could have met for a cup of tea.”

Mr Robinson pointed out that Boris Johnson’s government has supplied vital military aid including missile systems made in Northern Ireland to Ukraine’s armed forces in their war against the Russian invasion.