Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.55 14 Sep 2019


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The Minister of State for Immigration has said Galway West TD Noel Grealish should withdraw his remarks on asylum seekers.

Footage has emerged of Deputy Grealish calling asylum seekers "economic migrants" who have come to Ireland to "sponge off the system."

He made the comments at a public meeting about a potential new Direct Provision centre at the Gateway Hotel in Oughterard, Co Galway.

"You watch the news and you listen and hear our Taoiseach three weeks ago saying he will take an extra 200 migrants from Africa," he said.

"These are economic migrants. These are people coming over here from Africa to sponge off the system here in Ireland."

On Friday, Taoiseach Leo Vardkar called on the Independent TD to withdraw the remarks.

While Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton told Newstalk Breakfast Deputy Grealish should re-consider his words.

"I think it's very, very important because the impact of his words really are to pinpoint people of colour in a very, very negative way.

"I'm very, very surprised that Noel would do this, and it's out of character, I would put it to you, for him.

"Other colleagues have asked Noel now to withdraw those remarks and I think he should".

He also said Mr Grealish should admit "that he made a serious error and a mistake".

"The other issue here that comes up is we have 38 centres across the county, and local people all over the country are engaging with people in the centres and supporting them and helping them through friends of the centres.

"And by engaging with these people, local people's lives have changed, their perspectives have changed.

"And then they come to us and say 'we must do more for these people' when they realise what they've been through, some of them.

"There are not reports from any of the centres of anti-social behaviour or fear or anything else.

"Noel used the word 'fear' on a number of occasions - but the reports from the centres that I'm getting, and we're in touch with all of them, is that's not the case".

Asked if he could provide clarity on plans for the Gateway Hotel, he said he could not get involved in a procurement process.

"We have a legal procurement process, and I can't get involved in that", he said.

"This is a procurement process and it's competitive - and I can't get involved in that at all."

He added that they cannot liaise with local residents "until a contract is signed".

Main image: Noel Grealish is pictured outside Government Building in Dublin in May 2016 | Image: RollingNews.ie


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David Stanton Direct Provision Centre Galway Gateway Hotel Minister Of State For Equality Newstalk Breakfast Noel Grealish Oughterard

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