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Arson Attacks

'A campaign of far-right terrorism': Murphy lambastes Govt over response to arson attacks

People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy says gardaí should secure vacant properties.

“WE ARE WITNESSING a campaign of far-right terrorism in this State,” People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy told the Dáil today.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, he said any potential building that is to be used for asylum seekers is under threat of being burned down and called for gardaí to step in to secure the properties.

He called on the government to make a commitment that gardaí will be present so as to ensure buildings are not set on fire. 

His comments come after a house in Leixlip in Kildare was burned down after false rumours circulated that it was going to be used to house those seeking asylum. 

It is the latest in an escalating series of blazes at buildings subjected to protests by anti-migrant groups.

“The pattern is very, very clear. A rumour starts, true or false, suggesting a property is going to be used,” Murphy said. 

Speaking under privilege he went on to name individuals who he said had been present at protests outside buildings that had been earmarked for asylum seekers or rumoured to be earmarked for their accommodation, and where fires later took place.

‘Far-right terrorism’

“We should call what we are seeing what it is. We are witnessing a campaign of far-right terrorism in this State. And what has been the response? Almost nothing. Nobody charged, fiddling while the country burns,” Murphy told the Dáil.

While acknowledging that three arrests have been made in connection with an arson attack at a building earmarked for homeless accommodation in Ringsend in Dublin in December, Murphy questioned the delays in prosecutions.

The Ringsend property was set alight after it was the subject of protests over false claims it would be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

Dublin Regional Homeless Executive had confirmed to The Journal weeks before the fire that it was working to bring the building into use as emergency accommodation for families who present as homeless.

This morning’s arrests bring to ten the total number of people who have been arrested for suspected arson attacks in recent months.

Responding, Finance Minister Michael McGrath questioned if the deputy was suggesting that the state should provide security at every vacant building in the country, stating some of the buildings that have been burned down had not been intended for use for international protection and have not been earmarked for Ukrainians.

The spread of misinformation is being seized upon by a small number of people who  seek to spread hate and fear, said the minister, stating that this ultimately results in criminal acts being done.

Pushing back against negativity 

“So the answer is not just a security response, that does play a part for sure, and we will do all that we can to support communities who are pushing back against this negativity and this fear that which is being spread,” said McGrath.

Murphy accused the political establishment of “dancing to the tune of the arsonists” by cutting financial support and accommodation for Ukrainians while also pledging to charter flights for more deportations.

“You going along with the lie that immigration is the cause of many problems facing our society. It seeds more and more ground to the far-right and it legitimises their arguments,” said Murphy.

The minister roundly criticised Murphy’s contribution, hitting out at the TD for linking the arson attacks with the actions of government. 

“I think it’s only you could come into the House and seek to blame the government for people burning down buildings. You know, that was an outrageous contribution and you’ve actually made the work of the gardaí more difficult and the work of our criminal justice system to secure successful prosecutions for people who are conducting criminal acts. 

“I don’t think you’ve done anyone any service with the contribution that you’ve just made. In that regard. We utterly condemn any criminal act and where properties are being deliberately set on fire. It is arson. It is a criminal act and the gardaí are investigating,” said McGrath.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said today he fears the possibility of someone dying in an arson attack.

Speaking on Newstalk FM, Varadkar said his “biggest worry” is that someone could get killed or seriously injured in one of the fires, including the risk to security guards or homeless people who may be sleeping in a vacant building.

The Dáil Justice Committee has written to the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee asking them to appear over the recent arson attacks.