TD won't say sorry for his 'unwanted Dubliners' remark
The Fine Gael TD who said "unwanted Dubliners" caused trouble in rural areas has refused to apologise for his comments.
The Longford-Westmeath TD caused outrage when he said that Rural Resettlement Schemes "made room for affluent people in Dublin" and caused further deprivation in rural areas.
"What do I have to apologise for? Absolutely nothing," James Bannon told the Herald last night.
"Longford has already experienced social and criminal problems visited upon the county by families exported from their native environment in the city of Dublin to previously quiet towns and villages."
Bannon's remarks were described by prominent Dubliners as "discriminatory, derogatory and insulting". But he has refused to withdraw them.
"You don't make statements to retract them" Bannon said.
"Some [Dublin] people have caused hardship and social disruption in existing communities - and I emphasise 'some'. You would have social problems caused by local people too."
"It's not all Dublin people ... it was just a passing phrase," he said.
He is anxious that proposals to introduce a Rural Resettlement Scheme, which would relocate homeless families from the capital to rural areas are not introduced.
The deputy hit out at Dublin councils for failing to instigate a social housing program in recent years and for allowing developers to pay a contribution rather than building social houses in developments.
Mr Bannon said that he believed a home was a basic right for everyone.
He was also keen to point out that he has several friends in his constituency who moved to the area from Dublin and who have integrated very well.
Meanwhile, his Labour constituency colleague, Willie Penrose, said that he disagreed with Mr Bannon's comments about Dubliners committing crimes.
He described the sentiment as being "sweeping and generalised".
"I really don't think that statement is backed up by any evidence and I would fundamentally disagree with that," Penrose said.
"Housing for all people in Ireland is an absolute priority," he added.