Fine Gael candidate apologises for comments on asylum seekers

Verona Murphy said that some asylum seekers may have been ‘infiltrated by ISIS’

Verona Murphy was discussing the Direct Provision system when she made the comments and said those seeking international protection in Ireland should not be housed where support services for them are not available. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Verona Murphy was discussing the Direct Provision system when she made the comments and said those seeking international protection in Ireland should not be housed where support services for them are not available. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

 

A Fine Gael by-election candidate has apologised to “anyone who was offended” by comments in which she said some asylum seekers coming to Ireland have to be “deprogrammed”.

Verona Murphy, the Fine Gael candidate in the November 29 Wexford by-election, said she had used a “very poor choice of words” when discussing the issue.

Ms Murphy said that some asylum seekers coming to Ireland have to be “deprogrammed” as they “carry angst”. She also said some may have been “infiltrated by ISIS”.

She was discussing the Direct Provision system when she made the comments and said those seeking international protection in Ireland should not be housed where support services for them are not available.

Ms Murphy, the president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, also referred to the recent campaign against a Direct Provision centre in Oughterard, Co Galway. The plans for the centre were abandoned.

“I believe there are issues with the Direct Provision, and I believe that the people of Oughterard were absolutely justified because they hadn’t been given enough information,” she said in her comments on RTÉ’s This Week programme.

“These people are coming from such war-torn countries that they have to be deprogrammed, for the want of a better word, but through support services.”

“They carry angst that you wouldn’t ordinarily see, possibly infiltrated by ISIS and we have to protect ourselves against that.

“There are support services available, but they have to be available as much as the accommodation. Do not house those people where those support services are not readily available.”

In a statement later on Sunday, Ms Murphy said: “This was a very poor choice of words and I am very sorry to anyone who was offended by them.

“People coming here fleeing persecution deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. They need to be given opportunities to forge a new start for themselves and their families. That is why we have direct provision: to provide board and lodging to people seeking asylum.

“The point I was trying to make was that some people coming to this country do so from very difficult circumstances and the support services they need here have a vital role in helping them.”