The Government has to regulate the numbers of immigrants coming to Ireland, Independent TD Michael Healy Rae has said.
He was speaking following a Dáil debate on the issue of immigration, which saw heated exchanges in the chamber earlier.
A motion from the Rural Independents said Ireland should "stop those who come to take advantage of our generosity as asylum tourists."
Almost 12,000 international protection applicants have arrived here so far this year, with 361 asylum seekers arriving last week.
Deputy Healy Rae told The Hard Shoulder the Rural Independents group is not against people coming here, but there has to be a proper system behind it.
"It is essential for this Government, and any Government, to retain the authority to regulate the incoming numbers," he said.
"Unfortunately what happened was people on the other side of the House, people who were against our motion for whatever reason best known to themselves, they accused us of everything bar murder.
"We were accused of being anti-immigrant, and that in other words we were saying we didn't want anybody coming to this country.
"If we didn't have people coming to this country you well know we would be a poorer nation for it".
'Passing through other countries'
Deputy Healy Rae said there is very little enforcement for those whose application is rejected.
"When you see people who travel through many, many countries to come to Ireland seeking protection, you would have to say, 'Why do they pass so many other places before they come here?'" he said.
"If they're genuinely coming here, and if they're to be accepted, well and good.
"What happens then is, if people's applications are rejected, it seems to be the same thing to be rejected as not to be.
"If your application is actually turned down there seems to be very little, if any, enforcement in ensuring that the people go back to wherever they came from.
"That's no disrespect to them; if they're not allowed to be here they shouldn't be here".
Deputy Healy Rae said such scenarios are not to be confused with people coming here from Ukraine under the Temporary Protection Directive.
Asked if he wanted to see numbers reduced, Deputy Healy Rae said he wanted to see a proper policy put in place.
"Forty percent of people who come here come here with no documentation," he said.
"When they leave the other side they have documentation, but when they land here they don't have passports.
"Why or how should that be allowed?
"If they don't [have documentation], we really have to strengthen our borders then and say, 'This is not a free for all'" he added.
Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has questioned the timing of the debate.
"We had a racist riot in Dublin city centre two weeks ago, and in reaction to that the Rural Independents decided that this was the time to put down a motion on immigration," he said.
"Not on the far-right, not on Guards, not on policing, not on tackling racism but on immigration.
"I'm quite sure if I was involved in that riot, and in propagating that type of poison, I'd be quite happy that there was a debate this morning on immigration".
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said he believes the debate is cheap politics.
"There are other members of the Rural Independents that have made suggestions that our culture is being taken from us because of the levels of immigration," he said.
"It is really lowest common denominator politics for a political representative to say to their own people that they need to be afraid of the outsider.
"All of this is based around cheap politics and 'vote for me' stuff," he added.
Speaking earlier during the Dáil debate, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said Ireland is "a tolerant, fair, welcoming country."
She said 20% of workers in Ireland right now are from abroad and that the economy 'would not run without them'.
Independent TD Michael Collins said the Government has ignored public opinion on immigration for too long, and that the current policy is unsustainable.
Independent TD Carol Nolan highlighted a lack of deportations, saying that since 2018 only 11% have actually been followed through.
An ESRI annual review found Ireland has seen a significant increase in immigration, up 31% on last year.
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