[timgcap=Independent TD Noel Grealish]NoelGrealishDailMigrantComments121119_large.jpg[/timg]
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has written to Noel Grealish denouncing Dáil comments in which Mr Grealish singled out money being sent home by Nigerians living here.
The Independent TD was accused of “disgraceful racism” after he suggested that money being sent home by migrants could be the proceeds of crime or fraud.
Writing to Mr Grealish about his Dáil remarks, Mr Donohoe said it was wrong to identify one country without providing any evidence of wrongdoing.
“I am disappointed with the apparent ethnic basis of your statements and would welcome any steps that you would be willing to take to clarify on this aspect.
“It is inappropriate to single out one country in the absence of evidence of wrongdoing,” he wrote.
Raising the topic of remittances, Mr Grealish used World Bank Figures which estimate that €10bn has left the country by way of personal transfers to various countries in the past eight years alone, €3.4bn of which Mr Grealish said was sent to Nigeria.
However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar dismissed these figures in the Dáil as inaccurate and said the CSO puts the amount being sent to Nigeria at just €17m annually. Mr Donohoe wrote: “At the outset, I note that you appear to cite data from the World Bank which are estimates and may overstate the cashflow from Ireland to Nigeria.”
The minister referenced CSO figures provided to the Galway TD by the Taoiseach in October, which Mr Grealish did not refer to in the Dáil, and said “there are procedures in place to allow you to challenge these figures if you consider that they were misleading”.
The Galway West politician previously sparked controversy when he suggested African asylum seekers were “spongers” at a meeting in his constituency organised to discuss plans for a Direct Provision centre in Oughterard.
Mr Donohoe also told the deputy in his letter that he is satisfied that the appropriate framework is in place to ensure money leaving the country comes from legitimate sources and the correct level of tax is paid on it. He pointed to the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 and described a number of initiatives being carried out by Revenue.
In conclusion, Mr Donohoe said that the information was in the public interest and so he would be publishing it. He “strongly advised” Mr Grealish to bring any information he may have around wrongdoing relating to remittances going to Nigeria or any other country to the attention of the gardaí.
Meanwhile, the Public Account Committee is today due to publish its latest progress report, which is expected to find that the system to move people who have been granted legal status to reside in Ireland out of Direct Provision centres and into permanent homes is not adequate.
Earlier this year the committee hear about 700 people living in Direct Provision have been granted status to reside here. The members said that the spaces could house asylumseekers who are living in hotels
It is understood that the PAC will recommend that the Department of Justice establishes a process to ensure individuals who receive legal status to reside here are assisted to move out of accommodation centres in an appropriate timeframe.