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Correspondence sent to the Taoiseach warned that people would not vote for Fine Gael if he did not pull Murphy as a candidate.
by-election controversy

'I expect more from you': Letters of complaint sent to the Taoiseach called on him to drop Verona Murphy

Leo Varadkar admits that the Verona Murphy controversy has caused reputational damage to Fine Gael.

LETTERS OF COMPLAINT sent to the Taoiseach last month called on him to drop Verona Murphy as a by-election candidate or else face losing voters. 

The head of the Irish Road Haulage Association ran a controversial by-election campaign which saw her come in for sustained criticism for a series of comments about migrants.

She was dropped from the Wexford ticket for next year’s general election last week.

Correspondence from members of the public on the issue was released under Freedom of Information legislation to 

One voter stated that remarks such as Murphy’s were opinions are “dangerously gaining some populist traction in Ireland”.

Another email to the Taoiseach said:

I am a floating voter and I have voted for Fine Gael in the past but never Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin.
However, if Verona Murphy stays on as a Fine Gael candidate I will certainly not be voting Fine Gael in the next election. 

The emailer added:

“I work hard in my community to build bridges to welcome people, to have fun and laughter. Remarks such as the ones that Verona Murphy is reported to have made have no place at all in the society that I am trying to build.

As someone who straddles a number of marginal groups I expect more from you.

Another item of correspondence sent to Varadkar said Murphy’s comments about asylum seekers were “very disturbing”.

In these days of populist statements by Fine Gael, [it] must not be seen to have in its ranks a person who appears to appeal to people’s fears by encouraging racial discrimination.

The person goes on to state:

“This is far more serious  situation than that of Maria Bailey 

I sincerely hope that I can count of [sic] Fine Gael taking immediate and appropriate action.

Another letter to Varadkar states that Murphy’s comments are appealing to the “ever-growing far-right”.

“I do not think anyone can defend Ms Murphy in her a la carte concern for asylum seekers which ultimately paints asylum seekers as indoctrinated members of ISIS.

Even giving Ms Murphy the benefit of the doubt, which I personally do not but you and other [sic] may, the carelessness and naive, bordering on out of touch nature of her comments made over the weekend prove she is not fit to hold office as TD as she is not aware of the realities facing asylum seekers coming to Ireland many of whom are fleeing attacks.

They state that “in light of your discontent for Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee and Noel Grealish’s equally reprehensible comments which have featured in the news recently I ask you request Ms Murphy’s withdrawal from the by-election as soon as possible.” 

I would ask you as leader of Fine Gael to call for Verona Murphy’s withdrawal from the by-election as soon as possible. 
Should you decide to remain with Verona Murphy’s campaign on her behalf I will not be voting for Fine Gael under your leadership in any future elections.

In an interview last week, Murphy made further comments about immigration that have led to even 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?” 

It was her campaign trail comments that ultimately resulted in her being dropped from the Fine Gael ticket for the upcoming general election last Thursday.

Speaking last week, Leo Varadkar said it was a mistake for Fine Gael to select Murphy as its candidate in the by-election, adding that he accepts responsibility for the mistake.

He said he was glad that she was not elected. Varadkar has also admitted that the controversy surrounding Murphy caused “reputational damage” to Fine Gael.

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