Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has told the Dáil he “categorically disassociates” himself from comments made by Fine Gael's Wexford by-election candidate Verona Murphy about migrants.
Speaking during priority questions, Mr Flanagan was asked by Fianna Fáil's Justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan about the status of hate crime legislation and said the minister should be minded to remind “members of his own party” as to the prescribed sanction for engaging in such activity.
Mr Flanagan hit back and made an indirect reference to comments made by Lorraine Clifford Lee on Twitter nine years ago but did say he did not agree in any way with the comments made by Ms Murphy.
Mr Flanagan said: "I just want to respond to the comment in relation to unacceptable commentary in the course of current by-elections.
"I want to categorically disassociate myself from from comments made by Ms Verona Murphy, who is our own our own party candidate in Wexford as I'm sure he will in respect of his own party candidate in another part of the country.
"I believe it's incumbent on all of us to ensure that an acceptable commentary is treated as such. In this regard, I want to notice certain, I want to I want to mark certain apologies given by candidates involved."
Mr O'Callaghan said in reference to recent comments made by people involved in the political domain that it is a criminal offence to publish written material that is threatening abusive or insulting and is intended or likely to stir up hatred against groups because of their race, colour, religion or national origin.
“The minister should be bring it to the attention of certain figures in your own party because of their utterances in recent times,” he said.
Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted Ms Murphy remarks were “wrong" and "misinformed” but stood by the candidate.
Mr Varadkar told the Irish Examiner he still had "confidence" in Ms Murphy and would campaign for her.