Fine Gael's by-election candidate in Wexford, Verona Murphy has apologised after she said some asylum seekers coming to Ireland have to be "de-programmed" as they carry angst and may have been "infiltrated by ISIS".
Speaking on Sunday, Ms Murphy, said that in her view there are problems with the Direct Provision services and asylum seekers should not be accommodated where support services are not readily available.
However, she quickly recanted and in a statement to the Irish Examiner on Sunday night, she said: “This was a very poor choice of words and I am very sorry to anyone who was offended by them.”
“People coming here fleeing persecution deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. They need to be given opportunities to forge a new start for themselves and their families. That is why we have direct provision: to provide board and lodging to people seeking asylum,” she said.
“The point I was trying to make was that some people coming to this country do so from very difficult circumstances and the support services they need here have a vital role in helping them,” she added.
During her RTE interview she said: “These people are coming from such war-torn countries that they have to be deprogrammed, for the want of a better word, but through support services."
"They carry angst that you wouldn't ordinarily see, possibly infiltrated by ISIS and we have to protect ourselves against that,” she told RTE radio.
In referring to the recent protests and controversy over proposal to locate a direct provision centre in Oughterard, Co Galway, Ms Murphy said the locals were “absolutely justified” to protest against it.
"I believe there are issues with the Direct Provision, and I believe that the people of Oughterard were absolutely justified because they hadn't been given enough information," she said.
"There are support services available, but they have to be available as much as the accommodation. Do not house those people where those support services are not readily available,” she added.
Ms Murphy, head of the Irish Road Hauliers Association, was approached by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to stand in the election for Fine Gael and said she would have no difficulty in making decisions, even if they negatively impacted on her members.
“I will be there to represent the people,” she said.
Speaking about the asylum-seeker issue on the same programme, Fianna Fáil's by-election candidate Malcolm Byrne said many of the concerns being raised are related to the shortage of housing.
He said: "Some of those who are afraid of those coming from outside, it's because of concerns that they have related to the housing crisis.
"If we are able to provide homes for all of our citizens...then I don't believe a lot of the scaremongering about immigration will gain any traction."