Grealish urged to apologise for ‘exaggerated’ remittance figures

Coppinger claims Independent TD ‘knew full well’ he was citing incorrect data for Nigeria

November 12th, 2019: Noel Grealish TD has been called "racist" and "a disgrace" by fellow TDs after he asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar if the government was ensuring that all money transferred out of Ireland to non-EU countries was being properly taxed. Video: Oireachtas TV

 

Independent TD Noel Grealish has been urged to apologise to the Dáil for citing “exaggerated” figures about remittances sent home by Nigerian migrants in Ireland.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said Mr Grealish “knew full well” the figures he used were incorrect about the personal remittances sent from Ireland to the African country.

Ms Coppinger said it was important to correct the figures after the “massive publicity” the Galway West TD got for incorrect figures.

On Tuesday, Ms Coppinger accused Mr Grealish of “disgraceful racism” when he claimed that a “staggering” €3.54 billion in remittances had been sent to Nigeria over the past eight years. Mr Grealish cited World Bank figures.

The Galway West TD provoked a storm of criticism in the House when he honed in on the African country and asked if the Revenue Commissioners or the Department of Finance had a method of tracking the source of this money to ensure it was not the proceeds of crime and fraud.

Mr Grealish was not in the Dáil chamber on Wednesday.

Ms Coppinger held up a copy of the parliamentary question reply Mr Grealish received in October which she said showed that the real figure for remittances was €17 million, according to the Central Statistics Office.

She said the TD from the Rural Independents group “knew full well” the correct amount but chose not to use those figures.

“Obviously, the truth was unimportant in comparison to his aim.” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday the Central Statistics Office (CSO) confirmed that its data showed remittances of around €17 million a year for the period 2010-2017 to Nigeria.

Ms Coppinger said that one in four of her Dublin West constituents was from outside Ireland and she had been inundated with calls from Nigerians and many other groups.

“They drive our taxis, staff our hospitals and work as carers. They are entitled to earn money and the few hundred euro they send abroad.”

She asked if the Ceann Comhairle would ask Mr Grealish to apologise for his comments.

‘Reliable’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, confirming the figures from the CSO, a “well regarded and reliable statistical agency” said that €17 million was “not an enormous figure”.

He said the figure for Poland was €342 million, €50 million for Latvia and €28 million for Hungary.

The Taoiseach pointed out that the World Bank remittance figures for Nigeria “are estimates provided to the World Bank by the Nigerian authorities and are not actual data.

“We believe the World Bank migration remittances back book in respect of remittance flows between Ireland and Nigeria are open to serious scrutiny. We believe our statistics are the accurate ones and not those of the Nigerian authorities.”