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Verona Murphy elected in Wexford as Malcolm Byrne loses seat he won in November

Murphy had been dropped from the Fine Gael ticket following a controversial by-election campaign.

Verona Murphy
Verona Murphy
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

CONTROVERSIAL INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE Verona Murphy has been elected in Wexford. 

Fianna Fáil’s James Browne and Fine Gael’s Paul Kehoe were also elected on the same count. The trio were elected without meeting the quota. 

However, Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne lost his seat, which he was elected to in November. 

Murphy finished in third place in last year’s by-election in the Wexford constituency.

She had been dropped from the Fine Gael ticket for this general election following her controversial by-election campaign in which she sustained criticism for a series of comments about migrants. 

She confirmed in January that she would be running as an independent candidate in the election. 

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Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme in November, Murphy said she believes “there are issues with the direct provision” system. 

“I believe that the people of Oughterard were absolutely justified because they hadn’t been given enough information,” Murphy said. 

“There people are coming from such war-torn countries that they have to be deprogrammed, for the want of a better word, but through support services. 

They carry angst that you wouldn’t ordinarily see, possibly infiltrated by ISIS, and we have to protect ourselves against that. 

“There are support services available, but they have to be available as much as the accommodation. Do not house those people where those support services are not readily available.”

Murphy subsequently issued an apology over the comments. 

In December, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was a mistake for Fine Gael to select Murphy as its candidate in the 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.

‘I am not a racist’

After being dropped from Fine Gael’s ticket, Murphy told South East Radio in December that her comments had been “misrepresented in the media” and that her comments were based on security concerned. 

“Do we have to wait to have a London Bridge incident on Wexford Bridge?” she said. 

“Am I, as a person, not allowed to raise the security issue that these unrestricted migrants bring.

The fact is, I am not a racist but I’m being called a racist for raising those issues.
Reacting at the time, Varadkar said these comments “feed into the kind of racist views and xenophobic views that unfortunately are harboured by a lot of people, or at least by some people in our society, and had she been elected I think she would have been emboldened”. 

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