Higgins: Some people have 'abused' facts about asylum seekers coming to Ireland

Higgins: Some people have 'abused' facts about asylum seekers coming to Ireland

President Michael D Higgins has rowed into the asylum seekers debate claiming some people have "abused" the facts about people coming to Ireland.

The president has dismissed claims that migrants replace workers or take social houses.

It comes as Cork TD Michael Collins recently suggested immigrants are now "flooding" rural villages, just days after Galway TD Noel Grealish accused African immigrants of "sponging off the system".

Meanwhile, controversy continues over proposals for a direct provision centre at a former hotel in Oughterard in Co Galway.

While the president said it wouldn't be appropriate to comment directly on the remarks made by Mr Collins and Mr Grealish he said it is important that those who speak out on asylum seekers do so "straightforwardly with facts".

"When you look at the evidence that is sometimes fired around, have migrants replaced workers in any of the different categories? The empirical evidence is that they have not.

"You then look as well at whether migrants replaced workers or people on the housing list. They have not.

"So what people must do is they must really, I think, suggest to people, that they must correct these facts when they're abused in this way," the president said.

Speaking in New York, President Higgins pointed to the fact that of last year's global gross domestic product, between 10% and 12% was provided by migrant workers.

Locals in Oughterard have voiced concerns and have mounted protests as they believe they have not been fully informed on the proposals to use the former Connemara Gateway Hotel to house asylum seekers in the near future.

While Mr Higgins said the use of false facts to divide people was wrong he said it "doesn't justify for a second any malfunctions in relation to communication".

"People are entitled, as citizens are going through processes of change, to be communicated with and given the best possible information."

He added that there had been "sinister" anti-migrant messages put out during the European Elections across Europe.

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