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FACTCHECK

Debunked: No, refugees are not still being housed at a school in Drimnagh

A number of social media posts incorrectly claimed that pupils may not be able to return to the school today, prompting protests.

A NUMBER OF posts being widely shared on social media in recent days falsely claimed that a school in Drimnagh in Dublin 12 is being used to accommodate refugees.

Some of the posts indicated that children might be unable to return to Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School after the Christmas break.

One Facebook post that was widely shared earlier this week incorrectly claimed that “another bus load of non-nationals” had arrived in the area and that these refugees would be housed in the school in the coming days, potentially disrupting children returning to school today.

This is incorrect.

The post also claimed that parents were told by others in the locality that another bus with “30 more people” was due to arrive this week.

A local councillor told The Journal that up to 30 refugees were housed at the school on Mourne Road in Drimnagh over the Christmas holidays as a temporary measure, but all these people have since left the school and are now being housed elsewhere.

Local People Before Profit Councillor Hazel De Nortúin said councillors were told that two groups of Ukrainian refugees, up to a maximum of 30 people, stayed at the school over the Christmas holidays.

The school opened as planned for the new term today.

Reopening as normal

In a statement issued yesterday, a spokesperson for the school confirmed that the last term “finished as normal on 21 December”.

They added: “For some of the Christmas break, a small section of the school building was used as emergency accommodation by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

“This happened between 23rd December and January 3rd and is now over. The school will reopen as normal for staff and students tomorrow morning, Thursday 5th January.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth also confirmed that the school was temporarily used to house refugees over the Christmas holidays.

“The premises had been used temporarily during the Christmas and New Year period, but has now been vacated,” the spokesperson told The Journal.

Protests and arrest

Despite assurances that the school building would open as planned today, a protest was held outside the school on Tuesday evening.

A woman in her early 40s was charged with public order offences after the protest. Gardaí today said that their investigations into the incident are ongoing.

Further protests outside the school took place yesterday evening and this morning. A garda presence was visible outside the school earlier today.

gardadescriptiononpolicecarwithyellowandbluestripes There was a garda presence outside the school today due to another protest (file photo) Shutterstock / Ronin of Rock Shutterstock / Ronin of Rock / Ronin of Rock

De Nortúin said that while some local people did attend the protests this week, others from outside the area were also present.

While some locals are concerned with refugees being housed the school, she said others supported the temporary move and are “very angry” about misinformation being spread.

A number of local TDs and councillors including de Nortuin issued a joint statement yesterday, saying they supported the school’s decision to house refugees over Christmas.

“We support the decision made by the board of management at Our Lady of Mercy secondary school, Drimnagh to allow Ukrainians stay in the school over Christmas while the school was closed. This was the right and proper thing to do.

“These people were fleeing the war in Ukraine and were in urgent need of accommodation. They left [on Tuesday], allowing the school to prepare for the reopening [today].”

The statement was signed by TDs Aengus O’Snodaigh (Sinn Féin), Patrick Costello (Green Party), Brid Smith (People Before Profit/Solidarity) and Joan Collins (Independents 4 Change), as well as councillors Daithí De Róiste (Fianna Fáil), Hazel de Nortúin (People Before Profit), Daithí Doolan (Sinn Féin), Vincent Jackson (independent) and Sophie Nicoullaud (independent).

Humanitarian crisis

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Tuesday, Minister Roderic O’Gorman acknowledged there is a lack of suitable accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers.

He said the war in Ukraine is “the biggest humanitarian challenge the State has ever faced”, noting that over 70,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to Ireland since February 2022.

From 23 December 2022 to 2 January 2023 alone, O’Gorman said that around 800 Ukrainians and 570 international protection applicants arrived in Ireland.

“We have provided accommodation for everyone, but the accommodation situation does remain extremely, extremely tight,” the minister said.

“We are continuing to look to source additional accommodation, but it is a real challenge I think, particularly over the Christmas period where it is harder to access accommodation, but we were able to provide accommodation for everyone who arrived over the Christmas and New Year.”

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