Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the world has watched in horror in recent days the events following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Mr Varadkar said this had prompted a palpable outpouring of emotion and spontaneous expressions of solidarity against the poison of racism.

There has been "genuine revulsion" at the "heavy-handed response" in some instances towards peaceful protesters and journalists, he said.

"And we've witnessed the absence of moral leadership or words of understanding, comfort or healing from whence they should have come," he added.

"It is right to be angered by injustice," he said.

Cities across the US have seen days and nights of demonstrations, with protesters chanting against racism and police brutality.

Mr Varadkar said the Ireland he grew up in is a very different to the place we live today, saying we have been "enriched" by diversity in recent decades.

He said there are many examples of racism here - discrimination in getting a job, including sometimes from Government officials, bullying online and in the streets.

He also said people can use the solidarity seen in the fight against Covid-19 to make the lives of young people of colour in Ireland better.

Following the Taoiseach's comments, a US State Department spokesperson said: "Security forces around the world should be held accountable. No one is above the law. Minnesota authorities have charged one police officer with murder for Mr. Floyd's death."

The spokesperson added: "Although our laws provide protections against racial discrimination, discrimination and the legacy of slavery is an unfortunate part of the United States' history and an all-too-present reality for many Americans."

On the death of George Floyd, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said racism is a virus and it is a global one and while we stand in solidarity in America we too have to do our bit.

She said "rhetoric that fails to address the disgraceful, discredited system of direct provision is no good at all".

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said that the real racism going on in Ireland is direct provision, and called on the Taoiseach to end it.

Richard Boyd Barrett of Solidarity-PBP told the Dáil that US President Donald Trump "deliberately stoked up, encouraged and escalated" racism.

He said Mr Trump uses racism deliberately to deflect away from economic and social injustice and to set people against each other.

Mr Boyd Barrett also echoed calls for the Taoiseach to end the system of direct provision.

Mr Varadkar said that he accepts that a lot of direct provision is substandard and said that needs to change.

However he said we "need to understand the difference between direct provision and a man who was killed by the police".

He added that direct provision was not compulsory and is a service provided by the State. 

The Dáil observed a minute of silence yesterday for those impacted by racism around the world.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said it was a demonstration of TDs' abhorrence and rejection of racism and an indication of their solidarity with people who have died on foot of "vile" racist attacks.

Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane