Fine Gael by-election candidate Verona Murphy has said that she had a poor understanding of asylum issues and has apologised for her remarks.

It follows comments she made to the Irish Times last Friday that Islamic State is "a big part of the migrant population" in Ireland and services are needed to "alleviate that type of indoctrination".

Verona Murphy had also told RTÉ's This Week programme that some asylum seekers coming to Ireland have to be "deprogrammed" as they "carry angst" and may have been "infiltrated by ISIS". 

In a statement this evening, Ms Murphy said she visited an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre (EROC) in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, to gain a better understanding of asylum and refugee issues.

"I was very moved by my visit. I met men, women and children from war-torn regions who came here to escape brutal violence so that they could live normal family lives.

"Their stories were harrowing and have had a profound impact on my understanding of the issue. All they want is the chance to live safely and without fear," she said.

The Fine Gael candidate vowed to do everything to prevent division and anti-migrant sentiment. 

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said Ms Murphy has acknowledged that her statements on asylum seekers and refugees were not based on fact. 

He said: "They were based on false rumours and misinformation. She has apologised for her remarks.

"It is a sad fact that this kind of misinformation is now threatening to take root in our country - spread sometimes maliciously and sometimes naively - through various channels including on social media. 

"I believe that public representatives and those running for election must step up and confront fabrications."