Anti-immigrant candidates perform poorly


ANALYSIS/Anti-immigration candidates: Anti-immigration candidates performed poorly in the election, with two independents from the Immigration Control Platform pressure group polling fewer than 1,300 first preferences between them.

However, Mr Noel O'Flynn from Fianna Fáil, who sparked controversy earlier this year when he referred to some asylum-seekers as "spongers and freeloaders", retained his seat in Cork North West.

While Independent candidates campaigning on health issues polled well, there was little support for two candidates in the Louth constituency who called for control of asylum-seekers and a review of legislation in the area.

The main political parties signed a pre-election protocol against "playing the race card" and did not make asylum or immigration issues a major public issue during the campaign.

An exception to the general lack of focus on asylum and immigration issues was a call late in the campaign by Fine Gael's leader, Mr Michael Noonan, for mandatory health screening of asylum-seekers.

There were efforts by fringe organisations such as the Irish People's Party to raise the issue through leaflets circulated widely in north Dublin.

In this area candidates reported some anti-asylum-seeker sentiment on the doorsteps.

However, the overall failure of avowedly anti-immigration candidates to poll strongly here contrasts with recent trends in several European states, including France and in the Netherlands, where the party of the assassinated right-wing candidate, Mr Pim Fortuyn, took 26 seats.

Cllr Finian McGrath, elected as an Independent in Dublin North Central, which has a large immigrant population, says he conducted an openly anti-racist campaign.