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Fine Gael minister: Political parties 'need to look at' vetting procedures for election candidates

It follows controversial comments by candidate Verona Murphy.

Junior minister Damien English
Junior minister Damien English
Image: RTÉ

FINE GAEL JUNIOR minister Damien English has suggested that candidates who are picked to stand in elections should be subjected to more scrutiny by their parties.

The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development said that the party was “sticking by” its selection of Verona Murphy to stand in the upcoming Wexford by-election, despite her comments about migrants.

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke to Murphy after she called for migrants to be “deprogrammed”, linked asylum seekers to Islamic State, and claimed that young migrant children had been “manipulated” by the terrorist group.

Murphy visited a migrant reception centre and released a subsequent statement apologising for her remarks, saying she had come to understand the issues facing asylum seekers.

Today, English told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme that Murphy was now “much more deeply educated” about migrants and that her comments had been corrected.

“We’re sticking by her because she apologised, and she admitted her comments were completely wrong,” he said.

“They were ill-informed; she’s now informed herself much better.”

But he also accepted that parties across the political spectrum had to do more when it came to selecting candidates to stand in elections.

Said English:

When we pick candidates, it’s a combination of the party hierarchy but also local members.
And generally candidates are nearly better because they’re very well-known and they’re involved in the community for years…

“I do agree that all of us, all parties, need to look at their vetting procedures. There’s no issue, I would agree with that alright.”

Separately, the Business Post reports that Murphy was warned by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) not to contact safety inspectors who were carrying out road checks on vehicles.

Murphy is president of Irish Road Hauliers Association, but has temporarily stood aside as she stands for Fine Gael in Friday’s Dáil by-election in Wexford.

A 39-page document by RSA CEO Moyagh Murdock to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee details contacts between RSA staff and an individual representing the group, believed to be Murphy.

“The RSA has sought to dissuade senior members of the management committee of the Irish Road Haulage Association from making direct contact with RSA Enforcement personnel during the course of inspections,” the submission reads

“The job of the officers concerned in respect of enforcement is difficult enough without having to deal with such contacts during inspections.”

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