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Darren McGovern speaking to the construction worker in the video

Builders confronted by anti-immigration protesters 'in shock' after 'intimidating' incident at Aughrim hotel

Construction workers at the site in Aughrim in Co Wicklow were told to “pack up and get the f**k out”.

ONE OF THE construction workers who was asked to leave the site of a disused hotel in Co Wicklow, because protesters incorrectly believed it was being renovated to house international protection (IP) applicants, has said he and his colleagues are “in shock” today.

Protesters attended the site of the Lawless Heron Hotel, which is currently not open for business, in Aughrim yesterday. They filmed themselves asking construction workers why they were on site and asking them to leave.

DAC Construction, a family-run business, was tasked with carrying out work on the site.

In recent days, there was speculation online that the site had been earmarked to house IP applicants. However, the hotel’s owners have said they are not planning to use the site for this purpose.

The Journal has also confirmed with officials that the property has not been contracted to house asylum seekers. 

The owners of the hotel issued a statement after a video of protesters asking construction workers to leave was widely shared online yesterday. One man in the video tells the workers to “pack up and get the fuck out”, giving them an hour to do so.

The hotel’s owners said the site is currently being renovated so a beer garden and food court can operate over the summer.

“We feel it’s important to clarify that there are currently no plans for any accommodation to be offered at the hotel,” the statement notes.

“In good time and when sufficient works have been completed, we do hope that the hotel will be restored to its former glory serving visitors and tourists alike.”

One of the construction workers told The Journal it is “disgraceful” that he and his colleagues were intimidated into leaving the site.

We’re still a bit shook, it’s very hard to work after that.

Workers have not returned to the site today, and the man said the future of the project is now “up in the air”.

“We turned down other contracts to do this work, seven people are meant to be working on this job. People are working hard, trying to make a living. This is heartbreaking.”

The man said he and other workers felt very intimidated, adding that it was a frightening experience.

He said the building has been derelict for some time and the company was hired to improve conditions on the site so the food truck area can open for the summer.

“We were not hired for IPAS purposes,” he said.

International Protection Accommodation Services, which falls under the remit of the Department of Integration, provides accommodation services to IP applicants who arrive in Ireland.

Gardaí from Wicklow responded to the gathering and today said “enquiries into this incident are ongoing”.

‘Get the fuck out’

Darren McGovern, who is running for election for anti-immigration party Ireland First in Gorey in Co Wexford, shared the video online.

Philip Dwyer, also a member of Ireland First, praised McGovern and the protesters for their “great work”.

“Contractor’s [sic] lay down tools and leave site of proposed people trafficking centre,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). 

In the video, people ask a different construction worker why he and his colleagues are at the site and tell him they will “give him one hour” to pack up and leave.

The construction worker says he and his colleagues are just there to do their jobs and have “nothing to do with” any plans for the site, encouraging the protesters to contact the owners.

The man says his crew has been tasked with cleaning, painting and putting up an electricity pole, and that they expect to be on site for three to four weeks.

The protesters say they believe that the construction work is being done so the site can be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

DAC 1 At one point the video zooms in to the man's jacket to show his company logo, DAC Construction

Another man, not McGovern, can be heard saying he and others want the construction workers to “pack up and get the fuck out”.

This man then shouts: “Anyone else agree with that? Should they get the fuck out? Yes? We’re not here to fucking talk to them. Get out with your fucking crew! Get the fuck out, in the van, get out! Now!”

Others in the crowd shout “out, out, out”.

The man then adds:

I’m giving you an hour. Get the fuck out or I’ll pack your fucking tools up.

During the incident, McGovern asks the construction worker:

“How would you feel… if you carried out works on this premises and it was used to house illegal, unvetted immigrants into this country?

“How would you feel… if this was your village, if this was your town?”


McGovern goes on to say that “a line has to be drawn”, adding “you’ve seen what happened in Newtownmountkennedy” – referencing ongoing protests over plans to house IP applicants at a site in the town.

One demonstration there turned violent last week as protesters clashed with gardaí. Aughrim is located about 40km south of Newtownmountkennedy.

McGovern asks the construction worker:

At what stage does the Irish people say ‘enough’? How many immigrants are enough in this country?

The construction worker agrees to leave, saying the crew will be off site within an hour.

The Department of Integration recently told The Journal that the situation in relation to accommodation for asylum seekers “remains very challenging”.

“The supply of available accommodation is severely diminished. What accommodation can be opened faces significant local opposition.”

They have also previously spoken out about the level of misinformation being shared online in relation to sites earmarked to house IP applicants, or rumoured to be used for this purpose. 

In the statement issued yesterday, the hotel owners said: “We have appointed a contractor to start work today on cleaning up the exterior of the hotel, restoring services to the building and making some much needed operational changes to the beer garden.

“The business intends to operate an outdoor food court style food and beverage service for the summer.”

The owners said the courtyard will consist of food trucks, a small café/bar, outdoor seating and parking. They said it is their intention for the courtyard to be open for business from June until the end of September.

At that point, they said they will “reassess… how we take the business forward but the hope is that we will be able to start work on the interior during the summer and winter months of this year”.

Need more clarity and context on how migration is being discussed in Ireland? Check out our new FactCheck Knowledge Bank for essential reads and guides to finding good information online.

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