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Noel Grealish accused of 'disgraceful racism' in Dáil after raising questions about money being sent to Nigeria

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Irish people had ‘for centuries’ sent money back to Ireland.
Nov 12th 2019, 3:48 PM 57,186 210


INDEPENDENT TD NOEL Grealish has been accused of engaging in “disgraceful racism” after raising questions in the Dáil about money being sent out of Ireland.

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”.  

“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,” he said. 

The top five countries where money was transferred to over the past eight years include €843 million to Lithuania, €1 billion to France and the top three countries; €1.54 billion to Poland, €2.7 billion to the United Kingdom and €3.54 billion was sent to Nigeria.

“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.”

The Galway West TD said the source of his figures was the World Bank. 

“But Taoiseach, €3.4 billion transferred to one non-EU country is astronomical,” he added.

Has Revenue or the Department of Finance any way of tracking this money or where it is coming from? Can I ask you Taoiseach are there mechanisms in place to ensure that the money that leaves this country in personal remittances has been fully accounted for with the Irish Revenue and tax system and is not the proceeds of crime or fraud? 

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


“Everyone in this house will know from the stories their parents told them or their grandparents told them that for many decades or centuries Irish people went all over the world and sent back their remittances to Ireland,” Varadkar said. 

I know you mention a distinction between those going to EU countries and non-EU countries, but just walk a few metres across Merrion Square to Holle Street hospital, you’ll see a hospital that is full of midwives from India and nurses from the Philippines and doctors from Egypt and Pakistan and I don’t know where. And they work hard and pay their taxes and out of their post-tax income they send money back to their families who probably paid for their education.  

Responding to the Taoiseach, Grealish said: “I know a lot of it, an awful lot of it is genuine money but I want to ensure a commitment from your government that there are proper controls in place”. 

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The comment prompted howls of disapproval in the Dail with Ruth Coppinger TD standing up to say it was an example of “disgraceful racism”.

“Sit down, you’re a disgrace,” she added.  

Grealish was previously criticised claiming that refugees the government had agreed to settle in Ireland were “economic migrants” from Africa who would come to Ireland to “sponge off the system”. 

Varadkar and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan had both on Grealish to withdraw the remarks. 

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Rónán Duffy


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