Comments about immigrants by Independent TDs Noel Grealish and Michael Collins have been branded as “very dangerous” by Labour leader Brendan Howlin.
Mr Collins, a Cork South West TD has said Irish people are “hungry in the street” and should be prioritised over immigrants, arguing Ireland is losing its culture.
He was speaking as he came to the defence of Galway West TD Noel Grealish who was severely criticised after he claimed migrants coming from Africa “sponge off the system.”
Mr Collins was speaking on C103 Radio where he was pressed about Mr Grealish's comments at a public meeting about a direct provision centre in Co Galway last week.
Speaking on Tuesday at Leinster House, Mr Howlin branded the comments by both TDs as “very dangerous”.
Mr Howlin said Mr Grealish is a very experienced politician and added: “Sometimes in the heat of the moment you might say something that you maybe look back on maybe you shouldn’t have said.”
He added: “Maybe the sponging word was a bit strong”, but he suggested Mr Grealish was commenting more on how the system works in Ireland arguing that communities aren’t informed when contracts are being signed for direct provision centres.
In his remarks, Mr Collins said that one or two families could be brought into rural communities but “not 50 families”.
The Cork South-West TD also said that there are “Irish people homeless on the streets of Dublin begging for food, begging for money.”
I’m just there saying how are we talking about bringing so many thousand people maybe into this country and providing hotel rooms and everything when we haven’t looked after our own people. Why are our own people hungry in the street?
He also said: “Look after our own people first and then when that issue is sorted, let’s start looking at people from across the world.”
Mr Collins also said immigrants to countries like Australia have to learn the culture before they are allowed to live there.
“I’m just saying we don’t bring in the influx or the heavy influx of people into local and rural communities,” he said.