The Tánaiste has defended Verona Murphy and said that he would not call for her deselection.
Speaking at an event in Cork to celebrate women in direct provision who became local advocates against female genital mutilation, Minster for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said:
"I wouldn’t call for her deselection.
"I know Verona, she’s a good person, an incredibly hard worker and a good candidate in Wexford and I think she’ll do very well in the by-election there.
"She’s apologised for those comments. I think she would certainly say that they were misinterpreted."
Minister Coveney went on to say his party had come out strongly on the issue and emphasised the need for Ireland to be a place that treats refugees and asylum seekers with respect.
"We will continue to invest in resources with that in mind. This is a government that has committed to accepting 4,000 refugees in the refugee resettlement programme, we’re close to 3,000 in terms of those numbers now. We didn’t need to do that, This is a Government, and I was the Minister, who made a decision to send defence force naval ships to the Mediteranean to try to assist in a humane way with people who were trying to cross the Mediterannean.
"And this a Government who will continue to hopefully evolve the accommodation and supports that we have for asylum seekers in a way that will improve that condition and we’ll continue to invest in that.
"Ministers like David Stanton are working incredibly hard to try to find appropriate accommodation now, even when there are certain communities that are rejecting that."
Fine Gael Minister hits out at party's byelection candidate in Wexford over asylum seeker comments
A Fine Gael Minister has hit out at the party's Wexford byelection candidate for claiming asylum seekers who come to Ireland must be "deprogrammed".
Verona Murphy has since apologised for remarks made over the weekend in which she claimed some of those seeking refuge carry angst and may have been "infiltrated by ISIS".
However, it has since emerged that she also made similar remarks while out canvassing in Wexford.
“It sounds callous, but I am under no illusion that Isis is a big part of the migrant population," she told the Irish Times on Friday.
Junior Housing Minister Damien English said Ms Murphy's comments were "out of order" and do not represent the views of Fine Gael:
Her choice of words, as she said herself, were completely wrong. They were out of order. She is sorry for that, they were a poor choice of words
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t agree with what Verona said, and Fine Gael wouldn’t agree with those views."
Mr English said Fine Gael have a "strong record" in providing support and services for asylum seekers and is "very committed" to this.
"Her choice of words were wrong and there is no way around that.
He added: “Candidates are speaking on a lot of issues. She has admitted that she used the wrong words in this case, she got it mixed up and she corrected it."
Speaking to RTE over the weekend, Ms Murphy said she agreed with those who protested outside a hotel in Oughterard, Co Galway, adding that locals were “absolutely justified” in opposing plans to accommodate asylum seekers in the building.
"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," said Ms Murphy, who is head of the Road Haulage Association.
However, she apologised on Sunday night, stating: “This was a very poor choice of words and I am very sorry to anyone who was offended by them.”
Mr English claimed the election candidate was “trying to explain her thoughts" on the issue of asylum but "it didn’t come out right". He added: "The wrong words were used, she’s corrected that. That’s fair enough for me, it was important that she did that immediately.