Varadkar says he regrets choosing Verona Murphy as an election candidate
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he accepts responsibility for choosing Verona Murphy as a candidate and that her views on migrants came as surprise to him
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he regrets choosing Verona Murphy as a general election candidate for Co Wexford, and it was a mistake.
The Fine Gael Executive Council decided on Wednesday night to deselect Ms Murphy as a candidate in the next general election.
She courted controversy throughout her by-election campaign in Co Wexford last month, during which she apologised after claiming some asylum seekers coming to Ireland have to be “deprogrammed” as they “carry angst” and may have been “infiltrated by Isis”.
In an interview with her local radio station, South East Radio, on Thursday, she said her remarks about migrants during the campaign had been misrepresented in the media and she was “silenced” by Fine Gael when they placed a media ban on her.
Ms Murphy told the station that during her tenure as president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, she has been privy to information surrounding potential security issues regarding migrants.
She said: “Do we have to wait for a London Bridge incident to happen on Wexford Bridge?”
The Fine Gael Executive Council decided on Wednesday night to deselect Ms Murphy as a candidate for the Wexford constituency in the next general election.
When asked if he regretted selecting her as a candidate, Mr Varadkar said: “I do. It was a mistake and I accept responsibility for that mistake.”
Speaking to reporters in Dublin on Friday, he said if she had won the by-election last month, she would not have lasted long in the Fine Gael Party.
Ms Murphy has said she will mull her future over Christmas and may run as an independent candidate.
Mr Varadkar said: “Quite frankly I’m glad she didn’t win. What we have seen in her recent interviews is that she unfortunately does harbour these views towards migrants. We heard the comments about the Wexford bridge and London Bridge… that is raising the sceptre that migration may result in terrorist attacks in Ireland and that is just not factual.
“It was really inflammatory and I think it feeds into the kind of racist views that are unfortunately harboured by some people in our society.
“I think we would have heard more of it from her only it would have been coming from a TD and I don’t think she would have lasted long in Fine Gael for a number of reasons.”
“These are clearly views that she holds and they are not acceptable in the party that I lead. They are not in accordance with Fine Gael values. This is a party that embraces migration – migrants strengthen our economy and our public services and enrich our society.”
Mr Varadkar said he had initially been impressed by Ms Murphy for her role in the Road Haulage Association and her knowledge of Brexit issues, but her views on migrants were not consistent with Fine Gael values.
“She was impressive in terms of how she made something of herself….She was very vocal and very outspoken and I thought she would be a good addition to the party,” he said.
“I had never heard her express anti-migrant or racist views and no one else told me that she did. Once she did, it came as a big surprise and I take responsibility for that.
“The truth is when you are captain of a team, from time to time, people let you down. If they don’t change their ways, you take them off the team and I have had to take a number of people off the team in the past number of weeks and some people will not be candidates for us in the general election when it comes.”
On Friday morning, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told RTE radio Ms Murphy was deselected as a general election candidate for the party as her views on society were not consistent with the tone and values at the heart of the party.