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19th Nov 2019

Fine Gael election candidate criticised for “tea in a Direct Provision centre” stunt

Carl Kinsella

Verona Murphy

The scandal wages on.

Verona Murphy, who is standing as the Fine Gael candidate in the upcoming Wexford by-election, has apologised for a second time over her comments falsely linking Ireland’s migrant population to ISIS.

While speaking to the Irish Times, Murphy reportedly told the paper: “It sounds callous, but I am under no illusion that ISIS is a big part of the migrant population.” Murphy also had suggested that people coming from war-torn countries had to be “deprogrammed” while speaking on RTÉ’s This Week.

However, it appears that Fine Gael are continuing to support her candidacy.

On Monday evening, Murphy released a joint statement with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. In the statement, Murphy said she had visited an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre in Waterford.

Following the visit, Murphy said: “All they want is the chance to live safely and without fear. I understand that wish. I realise now I had a poor understanding of asylum issues and I apologise wholeheartedly for my remarks.”

Flanagan defended his party’s candidate, saying: “I know Verona gained enormous insights from her visit to Clonea this evening and I also know that she will use the insights she gained to promote a more positive and fair understanding of issues around asylum.”

The Minister for Justice also acknowledged that Murphy’s previous statements “were not based on fact”.

MASI, the Movement for Asylum Seekers in Ireland, described Fine Gael’s decision to back Murphy after she visited the centre in Dungarvan as “disgraceful”.

The Irish Refugee Council had previously criticised Murphy, calling her original comments “completely false and very dangerous”.

The Wexford by-election will take place on 29 November.

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