Independent TD Noel Grealish has been accused of “racism” for asking whether the Government is satisfied billions of euro being sent abroad from Ireland are not the proceeds of crime.
Mr Grealish said €8 billion has been sent abroad from the country over the past 10 years.
The Independent TD for Galway West told the Dáil the money has been sent to countries such as Poland, Nigeria and France.
Mr Grealish asked if Revenue or the Department of Finance had a way to track where the money is coming from.
‘For many decades, and many centuries, Irish people went all over the world and sent back their remittances to Ireland’ - Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar responds to a question from independent TD Noel Grealish on remittances sent from Ireland | https://t.co/JEA9BtWRmb pic.twitter.com/TK6B4wVoVS— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 12, 2019
“Over €10 billion has left this country by way of personal transfers. This is a staggering amount of money,” he said.
Mr Grealish said €3.54 billion was sent to Nigeria from the Republic of Ireland, according to World Bank figures
He added: “I know a lot of it is genuine money but I want to ensure proper controls are in place for money being sent out of the country.
“I’m asking you, Taoiseach, what controls are in place to ensure if tax is being properly paid on it?” he said.
In September, Mr Grealish made controversial comments about African migrants coming to seek asylum in the Republic of Ireland.
In audio from the public meeting, Mr Grealish can be heard telling hundreds of people that African migrants arriving into Ireland were “economic migrants” who “sponge” off the system.
I raised the #BoilWaterNotice issue in the Dáil a moment ago. I was shouted down by the Healys-Rae and Mattie McGrath. They didn't like me representing my constituents because I challenged racism from Noel Grealish during Leaders Questions! #dubw #LQs— Ruth Coppinger TD (@RuthCoppingerTD) November 12, 2019
Mr Grealish has not apologised or made any public statement on the comments he made in September regarding African migrants.
He asked if the Government is satisfied that the high level of remittances sent to Nigeria from Ireland has been taxed property or whether some may be the proceeds of crime.
There was an angry reaction in the Dáil following Mr Grealish’s remarks with boos and heckling.
Solidarity People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger said the question was an example of racism.
In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would treat Mr Grealish’s question as “a genuine one”.
He added: “If you have any evidence whatsoever that anyone is sending money abroad that is not theirs to pass it on, we will have it looked into.
“We will get a detailed response on what controls are in place but I am pretty confident there are already strong rules around money laundering.”