Varadkar dismisses figures cited by Noel Grealish relating to money sent to Nigeria each year

Varadkar dismisses figures cited by Noel Grealish relating to money sent to Nigeria each year
Noel Grealish.

The Taoiseach has dismissed figures cited by Noel Grealish relating to the amount of money sent to Nigeria each year as inaccurate and exaggerated.

The Galway West TD sparked outrage when he suggested in the Dáil that money being sent from Ireland by migrants could be the proceeds of crime or fraud.

Mr Grealish, who was previously criticised for claiming African migrants are "spongers", cited figures from the World Bank when asking the Taoiseach if proper controls and monitoring of these remittances are in place.

He claimed €10bn has left the country by way of personal transfers to various countries in the past eight years and singled out Nigeria, stating €3.4bn was transferred to the African country.

However, Leo Varadkar has since moved to clarify the figures and told the Dáil that data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows the actual amount is significantly less.

I understand that the World Bank remittance figures relating to Nigeria are estimates provided to the World Bank by the Nigerian authorities and are not actual data.

The Taoiseach said these figures are "open to serious scrutiny".

"We believe our statistics are the accurate ones and not those of the Nigerian authorities," Mr Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach said the CSO which is "a well-regarded and reliable statistical agency" have provided figures showing that remittances from Ireland to Nigeria are about €17m a year, which he said "is not an enormous figure".

The same statistics reveal €342m is sent to Poland, €50m to Latvia and €28m to Hungary.

Calling on the Dáil record to be corrected, Solidarity-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger said Mr Grealish had exaggerated the real figure over 31 times.

"I have been inundated with calls from people, Nigerians and many other groups. They drive our taxis, staff our hospitals and work as carers. They are entitled to earn money and the few hundred euro they send abroad," she said.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy also hit out at Mr Grealish and said he didn't like what he was inferring or insinuating with the remarks.

Eoghan Murphy.
Eoghan Murphy.

"Noel has questions to answer about what he was trying to do in the Dail because I believe it was bigger than just a simple question. It was disgusting and potentially dangerous," said Mr Murphy.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he “recoiled” from Mr Grealish’s comments and told RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme: "I am not aware that there are flows of funding from Ireland to any country that is a cause for any investigation."

However, Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae defended his independent colleague.

“It was unfair to call him racist. I think he was entitled to ask the questions,” Mr Healy-Rae told RTÉ Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show.

In a statement the CSO confirmed that between 2010 to 2017, an average of €17m a year was transferred from Ireland to Nigeria.

"Pay of non-national workers is used to estimate disposable income and to derive a remittance amount. The approach using indirect data sources is recognised as a standard approach in the IMF Guide for Compilers and Users of International Transactions in Remittances," the CSO said.

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