#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 16°C Thursday 26 May 2022

'It was a mistake and I accept responsibility': Varadkar says FG shouldn't have run Verona Murphy

Speaking to reporters today, the Taoiseach said Murphy’s controversial comments came as a “big surprise”.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said it was a mistake for Fine Gael to select Verona Murphy as its candidate in the recent by-election, and that he accepts responsibility for that mistake.

“I never once heard her express anti-migrant views or racist views [prior to her selection as a candidate],” he told reporters this afternoon. 

The Taoiseach also said that comments made by Murphy this week “feed into the kind of racist views and xenophobic views that unfortunately are harboured by a lot of people, or at least some people in our society, and had she been elected I think she would have been emboldened”.

Murphy ran in a controversial by-election campaign which saw her come in for sustained criticism for a series of comments about migrants.

In an interview earlier this week, Murphy made further comments about immigration that have led to more criticism

Speaking to South East Radio, Murphy said she has been called a racist for “raising security issues”, adding: “Do we have to wait for a London Bridge incident on Wexford Bridge?” 

She was also dropped from the Fine Gael ticket for the upcoming general election earlier this week

Speaking today, Varadkar said he’s happy Murphy didn’t get elected and said she “wouldn’t have lasted long in Fine Gael” because the views she holds aren’t acceptable in the party he leads.

“In terms of Verona herself, quite frankly, I’m glad she didn’t get elected because what we have seen in her recent interviews is that she unfortunately does harbour these views towards migrants,” he said. 

He said that Murphy wasn’t someone “alien” to him beforehand through her role as the president of the Road Haulage Association.

“I thought she would be an addition to our party,” he said. “I never once heard her express anti-migrant views or racist views, I don’t think anyone else did or nobody else told me that they did even though most of us in this room would have encountered her on many occasions.”

Varadkar said he has had to take a number of people off the general election ticket in the next few weeks and that he hopes Fianna Fáil acts likewise with candidates who express such views.

During Murphy’s campaign, she visited an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre in Waterford with critics labelling the move a “stunt”. The Taoiseach said today he didn’t accept that and didn’t think it was inappropriate “by any means”. 

It was put to Varadkar then that he was making these comments about Murphy while relying on the support of independent TD Noel Grealish.

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

“I’ve criticised what he said and I’ve responded to much of what he implied in one of his questions in kind in a way that I think was appropriate,” Varadkar said.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

“I profoundly disagree with some of the comments Noel has made and he knows that and he’s aware of that,” he said.

And the situation is when it comes to votes in the Dáil you’re not in a position to refuse anyone’s support when they vote a certain way. We’ve never been in a situation by the way where we’ve been down to one vote so it’s not the case that we’ve had to rely on that. But it’s not a sustainable situation into the long term.

With reporting from Christina Finn

About the author:

Sean Murray

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel