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Protests took place in Ballymun this evening. Pic: Sam Boal

Department of Equality 'deplores' protests against refugee accommodation in Dublin and Fermoy

Protests took place in multiple spots across Dublin.

TRAFFIC IS BLOCKED on part of the M50 this evening as protesters held up traffic while protesting against accommodation for refugees and international protection applicants.

Video shared online showed people gathering in several areas of the M50 while holding signs on a bridge leading onto the road. Gardaí were present in some of the locations on the motorway. 

The protest was one of a number which were organised for this evening against the accommodating of refugees and asylum seekers in the capital.

Protests also took place in Clondalkin, Tallaght, East Wall and Fermoy. In Clondalkin, videos shared online showed a counter protest took place on the same site. Gardaí were also present at this protest.

Justin Barrett, the leader of the National Party, was present at the M50 protest, standing by a banner which read ‘House the Irish, Not the World’.

Members of the far-right National Party were also present at the Fermoy protest.

In Fermoy, protesters shouted ‘Leo Varadkar, out, out, out’, ‘Roderic O’Gorman, out, out, out’ and ‘Micheál Martin, out, out out’. 

At the protest in East Wall, crowds held placards with signs saying ‘Concerned communities say no’ and other slogans. Protests have been taking place in the area since refugees were accommodated in a former ESB building in the town.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said that it was were aware of the planned protests this evening, and that it made Gardaí aware of them.

A statement from the department said it “deplores these protests which are intimidating vulnerable international protection applicants who have fled war and persecution”, adding that the protests are also causing “fear and distress for centre staff and management”.

The statement further stated that over the past year Irish communities have demonstrated “great solidarity and welcome for those who come here seeking refuge”.

“The Department strongly condemns any attempt to promote division and hostility towards those who come here seeking safety” it further read.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy has issued a joint statement condemning the protests from Ballymun businesses, organisations and public representatives including Ballymun Supervalu, the Bohemian Football CLub, several schools, local councillors and more.

“We stand in solidarity with the vast majority of the people of Ballymun in opposing the abuse and hatred directed at refugees and asylum seekers in Ballymun over the last few days.

“Men, women and children, be they residents or newcomers, should not fear for their safety in their homes or on our streets. We know that only a small minority of people from the area are taking part, and the abuse is orchestrated by far-right groups”, the statement read.

Speaking to reporters after the initial East Wall protests, the now-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Ireland was facing an “unprecedented situation” with the number of people entering Ireland seeking asylum, due to both the war in Ukraine and other global circumstances.

He said that while communities needed to be consulted and that the Government needed to do better in the future, they must not have a “veto” on people entering their local areas. “I don’t think any community can have a veto on who gets to live in their area,” Varadkar said.

“I think we need to be very careful not to make the mistake of confusing consultation and information with communities, which is important, with the idea that any community can have a veto on the kind of people who get to live in their area. That’s not right.”

Some misinformation was spread about the East Wall accommodation, including the incorrect claim that the people staying there were ‘economic migrants’, when they are actually seeking international protection.

The protest in Fermoy, Co Cork this evening saw protesters blocking the bridge coming into the town and shouting “we want our country back”.

The protest was led by Derek Blighe, who leads a group called Ireland First, which describes itself as a nationalist party (though it is not a registered political party). It also led protests in the town last month after asylum seekers moved into a converted convent in the locality.

After the protestors reached the bridge, Gardaí approached and said while they were allowed protest, they were to stop obstructing the flow of traffic because there could be an accident. 


At the weekend, videos emerged of a crowd of people outside a building in Ballymun where families were living, chanting “get them out”, with one person holding a sign saying “Ireland is full”.

Speaking yesterday, Justice Minister Simon Harris said: “In my mind, when people turn up outside a building that is providing temporary shelter to people, including women and children, and start saying things like ‘shout to get them out, out, out, out’, that’s not a protest, in my view. In my view, that’s intimidation.”

“In my view, it is not in any way, shape or form reflective of the communities in which these accommodation facilities are in.”

Harris praised Dublin Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, a Ballymun native, for showing “excellent leadership on this”. Conroy said the scenes were “embarrassing” and “upsetting”, and she believed the protests had been orchestrated, adding: “It’s not what we’re about in Ballymun.”

The incidents in communities around the country are coming months after the government announced it had run out of accommodation options for new Ukrainian refugees and other asylum seekers entering the State.

In the summer of 2022, the Department of Children told Irish NGOs who were dealing with Ukrainians entering the country that it had to temporarily stop arrivals into the country due to a lack of places to house them.

Although asylum seekers were subsequently allowed to enter Ireland, further issues arose in October when spaces ran out again and some arrivals had to make do with sleeping in Dublin Airport.

At the time, Taoiseach Micheál Martin raised concerns that far-right groups would seek to exploit the situation by claiming that Ireland is “full”.

The Government has stated that as of 10 January it is accommodating “over 73,980 people including those fleeing the war in Ukraine and International Protection applicants.”
“This compares with 7,250 at the same time last year. This figure includes over 54,430 Ukrainian people who have sought accommodation from the State and over 19,550 International Protection applicants currently in IPAS accommodation” the statement added.

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