Tougher screening for refugees 'not xenophobic' - Lucinda
refugees being relocated to Ireland should be screened more strictly in light of last week's sex attacks in Germany, Renua leader Lucinda Creighton has said.
The Dublin Bay South TD said it was not "xenophobic" to hold the belief that a tougher screening programme should be in place.
The incidents in German cities on New Year's Eve involved a spate of attacks on women.
Ms Creighton's comments came as the number of criminal cases being investigated in relation to attacks in Cologne that night has risen above 500.
"I don't think it's xenophobic or unreasonable to say that there should be screening and that there should be a process and mechanism in place to ensure that refugees are genuine refugees and not economic migrants," the Renua Ireland leader said.
She referred to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's so-called open-door policy for refugees, implemented during the wave of migrants that travelled to Europe in 2015.
"I think in a sense there has been an attempt to silence anyone who questions the kind of complete open-door policy.
"It has to be open-door, but it has to involve screening in terms of security - but also in terms of the kind of cultural issues that are emerging in Germany," Ms Creighton told Newstalk.
Ms Creighton later told the Herald that she believes Ireland has "a moral and international obligation to assist in this migrant crisis" adding that "the human rights abuses that have been perpetrated against these people in their own country are unimaginable".
She said that she has previously spoken of how she believes Ireland hasn't done enough to help.
"The journey they [the refugees] have taken is indescribable and Ireland has a duty to accept the maximum amount that we can shoulder and show the world that we will not waver from our responsibilities.
"That obligation however, does not mean we ignore the reality that people may seek to abuse this process and as we saw in the Paris attacks, it appears some already have," she said referring to the massacres carried out by Islamic State terrorists in the French capital last year.
Ireland has committed to accommodate up to 4,000 refugees who have fled war-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq.
A Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll showed yesterday that almost three in five people (59pc) are concerned that terrorists could enter Ireland under the umbrella of the relocation programme.
"Its not about fearmongering, these polls are indicative of a concern that is out there that the Government simply are not doing enough to safeguard this country's security as well as economic interests. I share that concern," Ms Creighton said.
It emerged yesterday that 516 complaints have been made to police in Cologne about the events of New Year's Eve with around 40pc involving allegations of sex offences. Of 32 suspects arrested in Germany, 18 were asylum seekers.