Attack on group of homeless migrants in Dublin ‘worrying’, minister says

Attack on group of homeless migrants in Dublin ‘worrying’, minister says

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 12:39

Last updated: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 13:07

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The Minister of State for Integration said he was “shocked” and “disgusted” by reports of an attack on a group of homeless migrants who had set up camp by a Dublin river.

It comes amid some protests organized by communities in Dublin, Cork and Waterford in recent weeks against housing asylum seekers in their communities – raising objections about a lack of consultation.

Politicians have expressed concern that members of the far right are stoking fear among local residents about what would happen if groups of migrants are moved to an area.

“I was shocked, I was disgusted,” Joe O’Brien said of the incident in Ashtown.

“It is very worrying. I have been working in the field of migrant rights for 20 plus years, I have never been more concerned about the safety and security of migrants in the country than I am now,” he told RTÉ radio.

It comes after The Irish Times reported that a group of homeless men were attacked at the Tolka River at River Road in Ashtown at the weekend, with journalists witnessing men with dogs and sticks arriving at the campsite.

An Garda Síochána said it had received reports of an incident in River Road in Ashtown on Saturday afternoon, but no formal charges had been made.

No reports of injuries have been made to gardaí and inquiries are ongoing, the statement said.

Joe O’Brien said that while accommodation available to Ukrainians and asylum seekers was “extremely tight”, it was his understanding that the people at the camp were not seeking international protection.

He admitted the state needed to improve its efforts to house asylum seekers, days after the government said the Citywest welcome center could no longer take in arriving single adults and warned asylum seekers may have to sleep on the streets.

“We are at the stage where we have to take it to another level. In my opinion we need more state homes, more state run accommodation, we are too reliant on private providers.

“We have human rights obligations that we must fulfill as a state. We cannot rely on private providers to do this. It has therefore come to the stage where we ourselves have to obtain more state accommodation and take over control in order to fulfill our duties.”

He said gardaí were monitoring “a small group” who vote online about migration, and said authorities needed to get better at releasing accurate information to the public.

“Gardaí are watching these very visible people very closely and I understand there are some measures planned in that regard.

“Online disinformation is going to be difficult. We do have a national action plan against racism, which we hope to publish in early March. Part of that will also be around the online area, we also need to get more accurate information out sooner,” said Mr O’Brien.

Former TD Ruth Coppinger said a group would gather at Ashtown on Monday at 6pm in a show of solidarity in the wake of the attack.

“I strongly urge the community and people across Dublin who are concerned about racism to mobilize for this standout and attend.”

The incident in Ashtown comes as around 200 people rallied in Lismore, Waterford, on Sunday over the use of a vacant hotel to house dozens of migrants as a direct provision centre.

Mr O’Brien said his understanding was part of the reason for the unrest was the loss of the prominent hotel building.

He said that the government “is aware that there is more we can do in that regard in terms of preparation and dealing with people” – referring to a newly established fund for communities welcoming Ukrainians and refugees.

Last week, a €50 million Community Recognition Fund was launched by Mr O’Brien and Minister for Communities Heather Humphreys, which awards funding to eligible areas.

This funding can be used to invest in sports clubs, play areas, transport infrastructure, or to keep community services open for longer hours. About €1.4 million has been ring-fenced for Waterford city and county.

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 12:39

Last updated: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 13:07

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