Independent Galway TD Noel Grealish has been criticised for comments he reportedly made at a public meeting in Oughterard last night.

He was speaking in relation to possible plans for a direct provision centre on the site of a former hotel in the area.

Mr Grealish reportedly said the people who might possibly be housed in the former Gateway Hotel would be African economic migrants, whom he described as "spongers" off the State.

He went on to say they would not be Syrians from what he called "good Christian families".

Independent TD for Galway Catherine Connolly described various stages of last night's meeting in Oughterard as very troubling in relation to "some of the comments made".

Galway TD Catherine Connolly was present at last night's meeting in Oughterard

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Ms Connolly said the anger was "palpable", but that some of the comments did not reflect the people that were there.

However, Ms Connolly said she understood "the genuine anger of the people".

Ms Connolly said she had been told that the meeting was about an unauthorised development and that she was 100% behind the people if that was the case.

She said she corrected a number of comments that she said were incorrect in relation to figures that were quoted in relation to direct provision by some people as facts.

Ms Connolly said she was heckled herself at times, but she said the vast majority of people listened.

She said she was totally opposed to direct provision as a way of dealing with asylum seekers, adding that she viewed it as inhuman.

She also criticised the Department of Justice and said it had not learned any lessons in relation to direct provision, saying it was clouded in secrecy and that there was no accountability.

The Minister of State for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne has said Mr Grealish should apologise for his remarks.

Speaking on Drivetime, the Galway-West TD said it was a heated meeting but that he could not confirm that Mr Grealish made the comments as he had arrived late.

He added that Mr Grealish should clarify them and said we want to be a welcoming country.

Mr Kyne said he gave as much information last night as he could but unfortunately that wasn't enough. He said he did not know for sure that the hotel would be a direct provision centre.

He said he has been told by the Minister and the Department for Justice that no contracts had been signed with the former hotel but he said works would be going ahead at the property and "that is what has sparked the interest and concern in the community".

The Galway Anti Racism Network, meanwhile, has called for Mr Grealish to step down from office.

Work is going on in recent weeks at the former Connemara Gateway Hotel which has been closed for well over a decade.

The refurbishment is taking place as a tender process has been ongoing to find locations for new asylum seeker centres in the west of Ireland.