Belfast Telegraph

Independent TD accused of racism over money transfers question

Noel Grealish recently faced controversy for saying African migrants come to Ireland to ‘sponge off the system’.

Noel Grealish has been accused of racism over a question in the Dail (Niall Carson/PA)
Noel Grealish has been accused of racism over a question in the Dail (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aine McMahon, PA

Independent TD Noel Grealish has been accused of “racism” for asking whether the Government is satisfied billions of euro being sent abroad from the Republic of Ireland are not the proceeds of crime.

Mr Grealish said 10 billion euro (£8.5 billion) has been sent abroad from the country over the past eight years.

The Independent TD for Galway West told the Dail (Irish Parliament) the money has been sent to countries such as Poland, Nigeria and France.

Mr Grealish asked if Revenue or the Department of Finance had a way to track where the money is coming from.

I know a lot of it is genuine money but I want to ensure proper controls are in place for money being sent out of the country Noel Grealish

“Over 10 billion euro (£8.5 billion) has left this country by way of personal transfers. This is a staggering amount of money,” he said.

Mr Grealish said 3.54 billion euro (£3.03 billion) was sent to Nigeria from the Republic of Ireland, according to World Bank figures

He added: “I know a lot of it is genuine money but I want to ensure proper controls are in place for money being sent out of the country.

“I’m asking you, Taoiseach, what controls are in place to ensure if tax is being properly paid on it?” he said.

In September, Mr Grealish made controversial comments about African migrants coming to seek asylum in the Republic of Ireland.

In audio from the public meeting, Mr Grealish can be heard telling hundreds of people that African migrants arriving into Ireland were “economic migrants” who “sponge” off the system.

Mr Grealish has not apologised or made any public statement on the comments he made in September regarding African migrants.

He asked if the Government is satisfied that the high level of remittances sent to Nigeria from Ireland has been taxed property or whether some may be the proceeds of crime.

There was an angry reaction in the Dail following Mr Grealish’s remarks with boos and heckling.

Solidarity People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger said the question was an example of racism.

In response, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would treat Mr Grealish’s question as “a genuine one”.

He added: “If you have any evidence whatsoever that anyone is sending money abroad that is not theirs to pass it on, we will have it looked into.

“We will get a detailed response on what controls are in place but I am pretty confident there are already strong rules around money laundering.”

PA

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