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The fire at a hotel in Rosscahill, Co Galway in December, one of a spate of recent attacks
Asylum Seekers

Varadkar says arrests will be made over recent arson attacks around the country

There have been a number of arson attacks at properties earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation in recent months.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that there will be arrests made in relation to a recent spate of arson attacks accommodation linked to asylum seekers around the country. 

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today, Varadkar said he is fearful that someone will die as a result of arson attacks.

“There are a number of garda investigations underway,” Varadkar said.

“There have been people questioned and searches have been carried out. The gardaí have told me that they anticipate that there will be arrests in relation to arson attacks around the country,” he said. 

“I have to remind people that this is a serious crime. It comes with a sentence of up to 10 years,” the Taoiseach said. 

“I’ve a real worry that an arson attack might occur in a building and there is somebody inside it. People who are carrying out these attacks just don’t know that for sure, and I’m really fearful that a tragedy like that will happen.”

There have been a number of arson attacks at properties earmarked for the accommodation of refugees and asylum seekers around the country in recent months. 

It was reported yesterday that the owner of a building where a fire began after it was earmarked to house 85 Ukrainians has pulled out of the agreement with the Department of Integration over concerns regarding his family’s safety.

Another suspected arson attack occured at a hotel earmarked for asylum seekers in Co Galway in December. A fire broke out at a hotel earmarked for asylum seekers in Rosscahill, Co Galway the following week

A former pub in Ringsend, Dublin on Thorncastle street was lit ablaze in the early hours of New Year’s Eve amid speculation it was going to be used to house immigrants. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has confirmed it had planned to used to property “for emergency accommodation for families”. 

Varadkar said that “there can often be a tendency in any society, not just in Ireland, to target people who are different”.

“It might be because of their nationality, their race, their gender, because they’re members of the Travelling community, because they live their lives in a certain way,” he said. 

“I think those of us who are in the centre ground of politics, and those of us who believe in honest politics, have the responsibility to push back against some of the myths and against some of the ideas that are put about that try to divide people and try to say that other people are different from us, and therefore it’s okay to mistreat them or even engage in violence against them.”

When asked if arson will be considered a hate crime under new legisation, the Taoiseach said: “Arson is a serious crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Even under existing legislation if a crime is committed and it is motivated by hatred towards a certain group in society, that can be taken into account in terms of a tougher sentence.

However, he said it is not intened that migration status would be grounds for prosecution, but “certainly racism would be”.