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Finance Minister calls on Noel Grealish to clarify why he singled out Nigeria during leaders questions

Grealish was accused of engaging in “disgraceful racism” after raising questions in the Dáil about money being sent out of Ireland.

File Image: Grealish claims his figures come from the World Bank.
File Image: Grealish claims his figures come from the World Bank.
Image: RollingNews.ie

FINANCE MINISTER PASCHAL Donohoe has called on Independent TD Noel Grealish to clarify why he singled out Nigeria while raising questions in the Dáil about money being sent out of Ireland.  

The Galway West TD was yesterday accused of engaging in “disgraceful racism” after seeking reassurance from Varadkar that funds being sent in remittance by foreign nationals were not proceeds of crime. 

Grealish told the house that he wanted to bring the Taoiseach’s attention to “the amount of money that is being transferred out of Ireland in personal remittances”.

Quoting figures he said came from the World Bank, Grealish said: “over the past 8 years alone over €10 billion has left this country by way of personal transfers, this is a staggering amount of money.”

“Taoiseach transfers to other EU countries I can understand, for example, money being transferred to the United Kingdom, our nearest neighbour, with over 100,000 British people living in Ireland and over 10,000 Irish students in the United Kingdom.”

“But Taoiseach, €3.4 billion transferred to one non-EU country [Nigeria] is astronomical,” he said, asking if the money sent out of Ireland was monitored and not the proceeds of crime. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the Minister for Finance said he was sure Grealish would justify his claim later today with the quoted figures, but currently, they don’t add up. 

“Well, I’m sure he’ll be bringing forward figures to justify that across today. The figures that are available to me from the central statistics office are some way short of this.

“It is difficult to accurately estimate this, but it can be modelled and the central statistics office indicate that across many years, that figure has been around €17 million per year.”

Donohoe said it was important for Deputy Grealish to make clear exactly where the figures come from due to the massive differences, and why he was “signalling out a particular country outside the European Union”.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

In response to Grealish yesterday, the Taoiseach said that he doesn’t doubt Grealish’s figures but added: “I’m not sure where you’re going with this”. 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) confirmed that from 2010 to 2017, an average of €17 million a year was transferred from Ireland to Nigeria. 

The CSO said remittance information is difficult to compile for National Statistics Offices and is usually based on administrative sources and modelling rather than a direct collection.

“The current CSO data are estimated using Revenue data. Pay of non-national workers is used to estimate disposable income and to derive a remittance amount. The approach using indirect data sources is recognised as a standard approach in the IMF Guide for Compilers and Users of International Transactions in Remittances,” the CSO said in a statement. 

“The compilation of the balance of payments is based primarily on enterprise surveys. The framework includes also actual data and estimates of resident to non-residents of household, government and non-profit institutions.”

‘Donald Trump wannabes’

Grealish is a member of the Rural Independent Group, a collection of TDs who decide on a case-by-case basis whether to support the government. He has previously come under fire for remarks he made at a public meeting in September about whether a direct provision centre should be built in Oughterard in Galway. 

Footage shared on social media showed Grealish – in reference to commitments the government has made on accepting refugees into the country – saying “these are economic migrants” from Africa who would come to Ireland to “sponge off the system”. 

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Dr Ebun Joseph, lecturer in black studies and critical race theory at UCD, accused Grealish of promoting hate in politics by trying to treat another group different based on their nationality. 

“I hope Noel Grealish is proud of himself this morning,” she said during an interview on Morning Ireland. 

“He’s saying that we should begin to police black money differently. He’s saying that we should begin to police people who earn in Ireland on the basis of their nationality. 

What we are seeing is the politics of hate. That’s what’s happening. I call this kind of people Donald Trump wannabes. They are nothing but to not Trump wannabes because they’ve seen it work for Donald Trump. 

Joseph added that there should be some form of punishment in place for political party members “who just come out and spread lies”.

“So our leaders of these parties must be able to put systems in place that denounces this and there should be punishments in place, that comes from the party because when they are silent they also become complicit.”

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Adam Daly

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