Environment Minister Richard Bruton has called on Independent TD Noel Grealish to withdraw inappropriate remarks about African immigrants sponging off the State.
The TD has sparked anger and calls for his resignation after he told a public meeting last week that African migrants “sponge off the system”.
His controversial statement was made to crowds at a meeting in Oughterard, Co Galway, where a former hotel is believed to be a possible location for a new direct provision centre.
Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has declared that Mr Grealish's comments were "poisonous" and he has also called on the Taoiseach to clarify if the Government has any dealings with the Independent TD in return for his Dáil support for the coalition.
Mr Bruton joined calls for the Galway TD to retract his remarks.
“From what I have heard of them, I think he should withdraw those comments. I think that they are not at all appropriate.
Asked why government TDs in Galway were so quiet about the issue, Mr Bruton responded: “It is for everyone to take their own view. But the primary responsibility falls on Noel to clarify what he said.
"We are at a difficult time. The world is facing increasing challenges around migration.
“These are difficult issues to deal with. But politicians have a responsibility to handle those responsibilities in a way that can bring people together, rather than divide people. That is really important at this time.”
Mr Grealish has yet to make any public statement or reply to media queries about the criticism of his remarks.