Speaking this evening Fine Gael Bye-Election candidate Verona Murphy said:
“Tonight, I visited an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre (EROC) in Dungarvan, Co Waterford to gain a better understanding of asylum and refugee issues.
“I was very moved by my visit. I met men, women and children from war torn regions who came here to escape brutal violence so that they could live normal family lives. Their stories were harrowing and have had a profound impact on my understanding of the issue. 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.
“We are a welcoming country and I am proud of that fact. I believe we must do everything to prevent division and anti-migrant sentiment.
“In future, I will play my part in making sure everyone has a better understanding of asylum and all the issues around it.”
Statement by the Minister for Justice and Equality and Fine Gael Director of Elections for the Wexford Bye-Election Charlie Flanagan on the visit of Verona Murphy to the Clonea Strand EROC:
“I am extremely grateful to the management and residents of Clonea Strand Hotel, a reception centre for refugees in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, for agreeing to spend time with Verona this evening.
“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.
“Verona has acknowledged that her statements on asylum seekers and refugees were not based on fact. They were based on false rumours and misinformation. She has apologised for her remarks.
“It is a sad fact that this kind of misinformation is now threatening to take root in our country – spread sometimes maliciously and sometimes naively – through various channels including on social media. I believe that public representatives and those running for election must step up and confront fabrications.”