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Gardaí on the canal this morning.

Asylum seeker tents cleared from Grand Canal as Taoiseach says 'Team Ireland' response needed

Asylum seekers were told they are committing an offence by camping on the canal.


ASYLUM SEEKERS CAMPED along the Grand Canal in Dublin were told they were committing an offence and had their tent destroyed in an early morning operation.

The men were offered alternative accommodation and bussed to different locations.

Around 100 tents had been pitched along the canal in recent days with people starting to sleep there after more than 200 tents were cleared from Mount Street, Grattan Street and lanes near the International Protection Office (IPO) last week.

Commenting on the matter this morning, Taoiseach Simon Harris thanked the “multi agency teams who worked this morning to resolve the situation of the Grand Canal”.

He said he made it “very clear” when becoming Taoiseach “that it was not acceptable to me or to Government that there would be any source of tacit acceptance that what was happening on Mount Street was just okay”.

“We took action in relation to Mount Street. Issues will arise from time to time, we saw an issue arise in the Grand Canal and action was taken. Swift action, you didn’t see a situation go on for weeks and months, as you had previously seen in relation to Mount Street, and I’ve no doubt other issues will arise but the multi-agency response will continue.

The days of people saying that’s not my issue, that’s for that department, that’s for that agency, I don’t want to hear.  This is Government. This is Ireland. This is Team Ireland.

“And this is a real challenge we’re facing and it’s not about wearing the badge of your department or the badge of your agency. It’s about wearing common sense here on your sleeve and everything that you do,” the Taoiseach said. 

He said he is having active conversations with government ministers from the three parties today to discuss what further proposals can be acted on.

The Government Information Service (GIS) confirmed that 163 individuals were moved to Crooksling and the former Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum (148 individuals were moved to Crooksling; 15 individuals were moved to Dundrum) from the Grand Canal this morning.

The Crooksling site and Drundrum site both have 10 to 12-person weather-proof tents. Both sites have toilets, showers, health services, indoor areas where food is provided, facilities to charge phones and personal devices, access to transport to and from Dublin city centre and 24-hour onsite security. 

Moved from Grand Canal

It had been expected that dozens of asylum seekers were to be transferred from accommodation facilities in Citywest and Crooksling to other centres in the coming days, amid growing concerns over the Grand Canal encampment.

This morning, asylum seekers on the canal were handed a letter by officials telling them that they are committing an offence by camping on the canal. They were offered alternative accommodation. Barriers were set up around the encampment and coaches were present to take the men to alternative accommodation.

Gardaí were present at the scene, as were officials from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) and Waterways Ireland. Some of the men who had been camping on the canal were said to be in a state of distress with the operation.

Others were happy to be offered alternative accommodation.

Two people sleeping rough and not seeking International Protection at the Grand Canal were accommodated by the Dublin Regional Homelessness Executive in homeless couples’ accommodation. 

Diggers at the scene cleared away and destroyed the tents. The GIS said “all tents were checked twice by Waterways Ireland personnel and removed by hand to a collection point close to the Grand Canal” where they were then brought to a waste disposal site by trucks. 

The letter handed to the men, which is written in English, French and Arabic, stated that officials were there to offer International Protection applicants in the area accommodation:

“We will need to see you Temporary Resident Card (‘blue card’) and then you should gather your personal belongings and get on the bus which will bring you to your accommodation,” the letter states.

You do not need to bring your own tent. It will be disposed of for health and safety reasons. At the accommodation, you will be safe and there will be food and hygiene facilities and IPAS will be able to provide you with support.

The letter also stated that camping on the canal is an offence and that by remaining or returning there they may be prosecuted:

“You do not have permission to stay on canal property beside the Grand Canal in Dublin.

You are committing an offence. If you refuse to come to the available accommodation or you later return to stay in this area you may be moved on by An Garda Síochána (Police) and you may be arrested and prosecuted.

Anyone with questions was advised to email IPAS.

In a statement, Government Information Services said the joint operation was carried out on the Grand Canal in Dublin earlier this morning by the Department Integration, the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána, Dublin City Council, Waterways Ireland and the HSE.

“The purpose of the operation was to ensure the safe movement of people seeking international protection from the tents on the Grand Canal to International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS)-designated accommodation.”

Migration has become one of the main issues facing Ireland in recent months.

There has been a significant increase in people coming to Ireland to seek international protection. There have also been widespread protests against buildings being converted into asylum seeker accommodation, and a number of arson attacks carried out.

The State has told arriving asylum seekers that they cannot house them, and hundreds have been living in tents as a result.

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore said in a statement this afternoon that there are already reports of new encampments in Ringsend and East Wall. 

“The lack of a clear Government plan to deal with this issue is simply moving extremely vulnerable people from one part of the city to another,” Whitmore said. 

“Fencing off sections of the city’s streets or amenity areas, such as canal banks, is not a sustainable solution but appears to be the Government’s only real strategy,” she said. 

Roderic O’Gorman

Speaking at the launch of the Green Party local election manifesto today, Minister Roderic O’Gorman said that he recognises emergency accommodations where asylum seekers are being moved to are “basic”.

“We have had very significant support from the Taoiseach and other government agencies in terms of dealing with a very serious situation where we’re not able to accommodate everybody,” he said. 

International Protection Applicants who had been living in tents by the Grand Canal have been moved to sites in Crooksling and Central Mental Hospital, according to O’Gorman. 

“There were at least two accommodation locations used today in terms of meeting the needs of the 163 people we offered accommodation,” he said. “We have to be able to make a decision in terms of making changes particularly as we look at the numbers we’re receiving.

“And that’s allowed us to bring additional capacity on in the last number of days to deal with 290 international protection applicants last week, and a further 163 today, and we will continue to work closely with other state agencies to identify temporary sites, basic sites, and I absolutely recognise the likes of Crooksling and Trudder are basic but from the point of view of security, and point of view of access to food and to hygiene and sanitation facilities far better than the situation and extreme situations.”

He said that he believes the government will be able to deliver extra capacity accommodation through the conversion of office blocks in “a number of months”, but likely not until the autumn. 

With reporting from Eimer McAuley at the scene, Jane Matthews and Emma Hickey at Government Buildings and Hayley Halpin