Independent TD, Carol Nolan, has told Gript News that she has been “inundated” with messages of support after she was attacked by the Minister for Housing in the Dáil when she described the government’s immigration policy as “reckless”.
The clash between the Minister and the Laois Offaly TD attracted significant attention online and in the media, and Deputy Nolan said she was continuing to receive scores of messages of support, by both phone and email, from across the country after raising concerns she said were “shared by ordinary people who “could see for themselves the chaos the Government’s unquestioning approach to immigration in general was causing.”
The row began when Minister Darragh O’Brien took issue with Deputy Nolan’s critique of what she described as an “unsustainable level of migration” into the State while it was experiencing an “overwhelming” housing crisis. He insisted that there should be no cap on the number of migrants arriving from Ukraine and elsewhere.
Deputy Nolan said: “As I understand it, the numbers arriving into Ireland are now at the rate of 1,500 per month. I am conscious this is a difficult and sensitive issue and we must tread carefully if we are to avoid blame being targeted at those who least deserve it. However, I am convinced that if we do not learn to find some way of exploring in a grown-up, pragmatic and constructive way the links between unsustainable levels of inward migration or asylum into this State and housing, then we will never find a meaningful solution to an already overwhelming crisis.
She added that it had been reported that there had been a rise of 700% in one immigration category alone, and that the Irish Times had headlined that the housing supply was buckling under extra strain of asylum seekers.
In response, the Minister accused the Laois Offaly TD of making comments which pose a risk to social cohesion. “Deputy Nolan has walked a very fine line here this afternoon. What she is effectively calling for is a cap on immigration and asylum seekers in this country. Let us be clear. I am calling that out. That is what she is calling for. We will not support that,” he said.
Minister Daragh O'Brien has accused independent TD Carol Nolan of posing "a risk to social cohesion" by raising the issue of inward migration.
TD Carol Nolan said his remarks were "outrageous" and "disgraceful", and accused him of overseeing a "reckless" migration policy. pic.twitter.com/TTl0EnXt0W
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 22, 2022
However, Deputy Nolan hit back, saying that the government’s policy amounted to “throwing open the doors and then having people sleep on floors”.
Deputy Nolan told Gript News today that:“Minister O’Brien clearly demonstrated yesterday that he and his Government are completely uninterested in making even the slightest attempt to grapple with an issue that is of growing concern to an enormous number of people. He chose instead to spend several minutes berating me while all the while jabbing and pointing his finger at me. I have to wonder would he have had the nerve to jab and point his finger at me if I was standing in front of him? It was not a good look but it spoke volumes about the ‘get back in your box’ approach of this Government.”
“Rather pathetically, Minister O’Brien then went on to distort my words and twist my intent,” she continued.
“He profoundly misjudged the moment; a mistake born from this Government’s political detachment and arrogance. It is routine practice to subject almost all legislation and serious policy issues to post legislative scrutiny or regulatory impact assessments. The issue of immigration and the impact on housing supply should not be exempt from that approach. It is reckless political cowardice to kick this issue down the road and pretend that the fears and concerns of ordinary people can be pigeonholed or recast as some kind of political heresy. I will not back down from this issue. I will demand accountability on housing and all policy issues that materially impact delivery of homes for our people. The minister would do well to set aside his hectoring, high-horse approach, join the rest of us in the real world and get on with the delivery of homes for our people rather than making spurious NGO talking point speeches,” she said.
Most of the comments on RTÉ’s report of the exchange were supportive of Deputy Nolan.
“This is the next great political issue of our time and the government and opposition are completely blind to it,” one man posted.