Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is steadfastly backing his party’s by-election candidate Verona Murphy as he plans to head to Wexford to drum up support.
Controversial Fine Gael candidate Ms Murphy made comments to the Irish Times that so-called Islamic State is “a big part of the migrant population” in Ireland and services are needed to “alleviate that type of indoctrination”.
Ms Murphy also told RTE’s This Week programme that some asylum seekers coming to Ireland have to be “deprogrammed” as they “carry angst” and may have been “infiltrated by Isis”.
Ms Murphy has since apologised for her remarks and said she visited a reception centre for asylum seekers in Waterford “to gain a better understanding of asylum and refugee issues”.
Mr Varadkar has since expressed full confidence in Ms Murphy as Fine Gael’s by-election candidate.
“Her comments were wrong, ill-advised and misinformed,” he said last week.
“She is our candidate and I will be canvassing with her ahead of the by-election next Friday.”
Mr Varadkar said Ms Murphy has “strong views”.
Mr Varadkar, speaking on Monday while opening the new Mountview Shopping Centre in his constituency, said that he had “already had the conversation with” Ms Murphy and hoped to speak to her later in the day in Wexford.
Mr Varadkar would not take any more questions and media were prevented to ask anything further.
A number of Fine Gael ministers have been out on the by-election campaign trail with Ms Murphy, in a show of support despite the controversy over her comments on immigration and allegations of bullying while in her role as president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), which she has stepped aside from for the duration of the campaign.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and junior finance minister Michael D’Arcy have previously joined her for a canvass in Wexford Town.