Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to withdraw remarks he made about asylum seekers earlier this week.

Audio footage had emerged of the Independent TD addressing a public meeting in Oughterard on Tuesday evening in relation to possible plans for a direct provision centre on the site of a former hotel in the area.

Video footage has now also emerged on social media of Mr Grealish's comments at the meeting.

Mr Grealish said asylum seekers coming to Oughterard who might possibly be housed in the former Gateway Hotel would most likely be African economic migrants and, as he put it, not genuine Christian refugees fleeing persecution.

Mr Grealish them described as "spongers" off the State.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Varadkar said: "If that is what he said, I think he should withdraw those remarks. At the very least make a statement on them and clarify them."

Video footage posted on twitter reveals further comments from Mr Grealish when addressing the meeting. 

In the video Mr Grealish says: "Now I have worked with one or two Syrian families. These were genuine refugees who were persecuted in their homeland, because they were Christian, by ISIS. They were housed around Galway, put in houses, they were accepted by communities.

"If you watch the news, and even our Taoiseach said two weeks ago that he would take an extra 200 what-do-you-call migrants from Africa. These are economic migrants. These are people coming over here from Africa to sponge off the system here in Ireland," Mr Grealish added.


"I can guarantee you it is not the persecuted Christians and Syrians that are coming here. It is the economic refugees that is coming in from Africa that are trying to get across the Mediterranean and ended up in Europe and ended in up Ireland and ended up in Oughterard.

"We don't have the schools…don't have the doctors for the families. A big city…can absorb 300 refugees, but not a small town like Oughterard.

"I will say one thing to everybody in this room here tonight, work together, stick together and we will work with ye.

"I want politicians here to give the same commitment here tonight that we will work to ensure that this does not happen. It will destroy the fabric of Oughterard. Thank you."

Mr Grealish has not spoken about his comments since the meeting. 

Today, he attended a National Learning Network event at the Menlo Hotel in Galway but left afterwards without commenting to the media.

This afternoon, the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and flood relief Kevin Boxer Moran called on Mr Grealish to apologise over his comments.

Minister Moran said he had not heard the comments himself only what he had read in the papers.

But he said if he has said them he should withdraw the remarks .

Tuesday night's Oughterard meeting was also attended by Minister of State Sean Kyne and Independent TD Catherine Connnolly.

Yesterday, speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr Kyne said Mr Grealish should apologise for his remarks.

Mr Kyne 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.

Ms Connolly described various stages of the meeting as very troubling in relation to "some of the comments made".

Ms Connolly said the anger was "palpable", but that some of the comments did not reflect the people that were there.