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An asylum seeker sitting at the now cleared Mount Street camp site.
Mount Street

Asylum seekers who left Dublin Mountains camp attempt to find shelter for the night

One asylum seeker said he felt he was treated “like an animal” at the campsite he was bussed to.

ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO were transferred from Mount Street today to the grounds of an old nursing home in the Dublin Mountains have said that the conditions at the site meant they “could not” stay there.

Men who travelled back to the city this evening said that when they left this morning they were instructed not to take their tents with them.

One man said he felt that they were treated “like animals”.

Protestors heckled the asylum seekers outside of the campsite at Crooksling, near Saggart.

Now, asylum seekers are trickling back to the area surrounding the International Protection Office in Dublin city centre, but their tents are gone, as Dublin City Council-contracted workers have destroyed and removed them using a digger.

This evening, there is a strong smell of bleach on the street where volunteers and asylum seekers (some of whom have returned, some of whom were away this morning when the buses arrived) are working together to put up the few donated tents that they have.

Roughly 20 men were in the area earlier. One man called Wole was making calls, and pacing back and forth on the street. He said that at the St Brigid’s Nursing home site earlier, he did not see toilet or shower facilities.

“Now, here, my tent is gone. It’s a big problem. I don’t know where I will sleep,” he told The Journal.

Another man, Odei, who arrived at the makeshift camp in the Mount Street area three days ago, said that he got on the bus at 9am this morning.

“Now I’m back here with no tent, I’m going to walk into the city, and I don’t know, see what I can find,” he said.

His friend Sibin explained that they did not know where they were going when they got on the buses, and that it was not explained to them.

“We were told to leave our tents behind, so we did.

“When we arrived there were some people with stones, some dangerous people there,” he said.

“There it was the same situation as here, except the tents were small, it was not close to anything, we did not have food. When I went in someone took my blue card and name and said this is your sleeping bag and tent. They said if I didn’t like it there, I could go back.

“It was too cold there, colder than here. We were told to put our tents up outside in a big open area, nearby there was forest. It was like a mountain,” Odei added.

Sibin and his friends stayed at the site for an hour before making the decision to walk back “for over an hour”, before they found the station and took trains back into the city centre.

“We are human, we are the same as you, but we were treated like animals.

“There was some packets of water bottles, sitting in the middle, like they are here,” he said, pointing over to plastic containers of water bottles that had been left on Mount Street by volunteers.

“When we decided to go, the lady said, ‘OK, the door is open’,” he added.

Of the asylum seekers who returned to Dublin city centre this evening, it is understood that some will sleep in newly donated tents, while some have simply wandered into the city, without knowing where they will sleep. 

One volunteer was taking asylum seekers to stay in his own home while The Journal was at Mount Street, and there are reports of other people squatting in a city centre building. 

Opposition politicians have accused the Department of Integration of moving the asylum seekers in order to have them out of the way before St Patrick’s day tomorrow – one of the biggest tourism events in the Irish calendar.

Speaking to reporters earlier in Washington DC, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar denied this was the case, claiming the relocation had happened on health and safety grounds.

Speaking this evening on Mount Street, Róisín McAleer, a volunteer for the group Social Rights Ireland, said that she shares that view.

“Today has been the worst day here I would say, worse than the snow day. People were moved out to Saggart and then we got calls and texts from them saying it was terrible. They were issued with flimsy little festival tents.

“There seems to have been one toilet, we got a photograph of it, it is broken, the bathroom is disgusting. Asylum seekers decided they were not staying there because it was better here, and warmer. They had better tents and tarpaulin,” Roisin said.

She added that different groups have been supporting the asylum seekers from the Mount Street base, and that moving them to the Dublin Mountains would mean cutting them off from that support, and making it near impossible for them to reach the day centres the department has contracted to provide them with showers, hot meals, and changes of clothes.

“This feels like a very cynical attempt to clean up the streets in this area because tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, and the spotlight will be on Ireland and Dublin, and it doesn’t look good internationally to have asylum seekers living homeless in tents. So they’ve moved them out to a site in a forest. It’s deplorable,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Integration today said that it offered asylum seekers “alternative accommodation”.

A department spokesperson said that toilets, showers, food, access to health services, and transport links to Dublin will be put into place at the new location. It said it would ensure with healthcare providers to “ensure the wellbeing of those on site”.

“Anyone who chooses to refuse this offer or leave the space offered by IPAS are of course entitled to make that choice. However, for their own safety and health, we do not recommend anyone return to Mount St as it does not have the facilities or security,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said: “Following the relocation of the International Protection Applicants by IPAS, contractors working on behalf of Dublin City Council removed the waste and tents that were left behind as they were causing an obstruction on the public footpath.”

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