Verona Murphy blasts Simon Harris as she defends controversial immigration comments

Ms Murphy was dropped by the party earlier this week as a general election candidate

Verona Murphy blasts Simon Harris as she defends controversial immigration comments

Deselected Fine Gael candidate Verona Murphy has launched an attack on Health Minister Simon Harris claiming he is “one of the worst ministers for health” ever.

Ms Murphy was dropped by the party earlier this week as a general election candidate after she caused outrage during the recent Wexford by-election when she claimed asylum seekers needed to be “deprogrammed” and may have been influenced by terrorist group ISIS.

Today she claimed she had made the comments after she been briefed by top security officials on migration.

Speaking to South East radio, she said she had attended numerous briefings in Europe such as with Interpol and had visited 'the Jungle' for migrants in Calais.

I don’t think anyone in Dáil Éireann has as much experience on the issue as I have.

"The issue I raised was a security one. We have to protect ourselves.”

It was not her intent to cause offence, she said. Her remarks had been misrepresented as she had simply raised a security issue. She said she knew of a haulier in Wexford whose trailer was entered by 16 illegal migrants who had then absconded.

“That haulier suffered gravely, his family doesn’t want their father to be arrested. It was the security issue that I raised."

She also added:

Do we have to wait for a London Bridge incident on Wexford Bridge? Unrestricted migrants are a security issue.

Ms Murphy said that her apology to migrants during the by-election campaign had been "sincere". It was also “absolutely untrue” that her comments were part of a campaign strategy to ‘play the race card’, she said.

Earlier, Minister Harris said Fine Gael's decision to deselect Ms Murphy was “looking better by the moment”.

“I think anybody who engages in stoking what I believe are unfounded racists fears has no place in the Fine Gael party."

But Ms Murphy told Newstalk that Mr Harris was "one of the worst ministers for health" ever.

More in this section