An independent TD for Cork South-West has argued that the Irish government should stop helping asylum seekers and those in direct provision. Michael Collins, speaking on C103 Radio, said that we should “Look after our own people first”.
Collins is now the second member of the Dáil to make comments attacking asylum seekers in the last week.
“Look after our own people first”
Collins was asked for his opinion on remarks made by independent TD Noel Grealish during a public meeting on 11 September about a proposed direct provision centre in Oughterard, Co. Galway. Grealish told those gathered that asylum seekers coming to Ireland were arriving to “sponge” off the government.
Although Collins said that Grealish’s comments were “a bit strong”, he contended that the government should take care of its own citizens first.
He insisted that:
I’m just there saying how are we talking about bringing so many thousand people maybe into this country and providing hotel rooms and everything when we haven’t looked after our own people. Why are our own people hungry in the street?
The TD went on to declare:
Look after our own people first and then when that issue is sorted, let’s start looking at people from across the world.
Collins also claimed that Ireland’s culture is being lost because of immigration, saying:
we’re losing our culture here very, very quickly and people see that time and time again.
Blaming the wrong people
Collins has been widely attacked for his remarks. Labour leader Brendan Howlin described both Collins’ and Grealish’s comments as “very dangerous”. Evie Nevin, a Social Democrat candidate from Clonakilty in the recent local elections, also criticised Collins.
She pointed out that:
Our country is in crisis but it isn’t because of immigrants. It is because of the failures of Fine Fáil [sic] and Fine Gael.
But on his Facebook page, Collins appeared to reiterate his argument. He wrote that Irish people shouldn’t be “made feel like second class citizens in their own country”.
Featured image via Oireachtas.ie