Noel Grealish accused of 'disgraceful racism' following money transfers question

Independent TD Noel Grealish has been accused of "disgraceful racism" after raising questions in the Dáil around money being sent home by migrants.

Noel Grealish accused of 'disgraceful racism' following money transfers question

Independent TD Noel Grealish has been accused of "disgraceful racism" after raising questions in the Dáil around money being sent home by migrants.

Mr Grealsih, pointed to more than €10bn which he said has left the country by way of personal transfers to various countries in the past eight years alone.

The Galway West politician, who recently sparked controversy when he suggested African asylum seekers were "spongers" at a local meeting in his constituency, told the Dáil that vast amounts of money cannot be allowed to leave the country without proper controls or monitoring in place.

While he said he "understands transfers to other EU countries" citing more than 100,000 British people who live here, he said the €3.4bn n transferred to Nigeria is "astronomical".

Mr Grealsih was heckled by both Ministers and members of the opposition as he asked: "Are mechanisms in place to ensure that the money that leaves this country in personal remittances has been fully accounted for within the Irish revenue and tax system and is not the proceeds of crime or fraud? "

Responding, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wasn't quite sure where Mr Grealish was going with his line of questioning but reminded the House of Ireland's long history of people leaving this country and sending money back home.

"I remember that all of my grandmother's family went to America and she told me about the cheques coming from the United States. Those were remittances coming home from Irish people who went to America. I know the Deputy mentioned that there is perhaps a distinction between those going to other EU countries and those who are not.

"If the Deputy walks a few metres across Merrion Square into Holles Street hospital, he will see a hospital full of midwives from India, nurses from the Philippines and doctors from Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere.

"They work hard and pay their taxes. Out of their post-tax income, they send some money back to their families, who probably paid for their education. That is the way the world worked and is the way Ireland worked and still will for decades."

Mr Varadkar said Revenue have protections and controls in place when it comes to money laundering, financial controls or tax evasion to make sure that any money that is taken out of the country was legitimately earned.

Solidarity PBP TD Ruth Coppinger, expressed outrage at Mr Grealish's remarks and asked the Ceann Comhairle to "call this out".

"This is disgraceful racism. He is suggesting that people who work here are criminals," she said.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy also interrupted proceedings to ask if Mr Grealish had any evidence behind his remarks.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "More remittances came back to County Galway than to most other counties from the USA. Deputy Grealish's constituents know that."

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