Fine Gael's James Reilly has described Verona Murphy's comments about migrants as “very hurtful” and said he rejected them totally.
Speaking on his arrival at the Fingal count centre, Dr Reilly expressed his disappointment at his failure to get elected in the Dublin-Fingal by-election.
He said by-elections are “notoriously difficult” for governments to win and said the low turnout impacted on his result.
“Well it is a disappointing outcome obviously. But with a very low turn out, yeah, I am disappotined,” he said.
The former health minister and deputy leader of Fine Gael rejected claims he was “past it” and should have made room for a younger candidate. “I have plenty of energy left, I am interested in the future, I am not bothered about the past. I am the candidate selected,” he said making clear his intention of standing for the party in the upcoming General Election.
He said the Dara Murphy controversy over his continued absence from the Dail did not impact his vote, but did say the comments about migrants by Verona Murphy “did come up on the doors.”
“It certainly did come up. Some of my constituents, a very nice Nigerian couple who are Irish citizens raised it with me. I have a multi-racial practice, my extended family is multi-racial too. So it is very hurtful for people who have just come to the country, who want to contribute who find it difficult enough without being marked out. So I reject all that,” he said.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrived at the centre a short time later, but refused to take questions from the media.