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Dublin City

O'Gorman denies asylum seekers were moved from Mount Street because of St Patrick's Day

The men were taken in busses and taxis to Crooksling, near Saggart yesterday morning but some have returned.

LAST UPDATE | 17 Mar

CHILDREN AND INTEGRATION Minister Roderic O’Gorman has denied that homeless asylum seekers who had been staying in tents in Dublin City Centre were moved to south county Dublin as a result of the St Patrick’s Day parade.

About 150 men were bussed from the Mount Street area in Dublin 2 yesterday morning to a facility in Crooksling, Co Dublin, where they were given tents and invited to make a new camp.

The men were met at the scene by anti-immigration demonstrators. Several travelled back to the city yesterday evening, not knowing where they would sleep. While they were gone, a private contractor hired by the council cleared away the tents and some of the men’s belongings. 

The Government was strongly criticised by opposition politicians and NGOs over how it handled the issue, and was accused of only acting as it was St Patrick’s Day weekend. The makeshift campsite had become highly unsanitary in recent weeks, with rubbish piling up. 

Responding today, Minister O’Gorman, who is currently in Japan as part of St Patrick’s Day celebrations, denied that this was the case.

“Over the last 10 days, politicians, NGOs have very rightly been highlighting the unacceptable nature of the conditions that existed at Mount Street,” he said.

“And I have worked very closely with my officials to provide an alternative. The site in Crooksling, it’s a state-owned site, a former HSE site.

It only became available to us in the last 10 days and we’ve been working closely in terms of how we can make that site useable how we can put in place those basic facilities.

Officials were also criticised due to the lack of facilities and proper accommodation at the site.  However, O’Gorman said that some of the coverage last night surrounding the facilities had been inaccurate.

“I know there’s been a significant amount of inaccurate coverage, or inaccurate, I suppose, material being circulated particularly online in terms of the facilities that exist at the Crooksling site,” he said.

So I just want to reiterate there are 15 toilets there. There are six showers there and as I say more will be put in place.

Safety concerns

The site itself is on the grounds of the former St Brigid’s Nursing Home in Crooksling, which was burnt in a suspected arson attack in January. O’Gorman said, however, that the location was safer for asylum seekers than where they had been in Dublin city. 

“As you know, we’ve experienced protests and worse at many places where we’ve sought to open IP accommodation in the last number of months,” he said.

“And that is one of reasons why it is so hard to open new accommodation right now. But yes, I believe the site in Crooksling is safe following the arson attack in January.

“Very significant security measures have been put in place. A large number of security cameras and a 24 hour security team. So I believe the International Protection applicants are safe in Crooksling and importantly far safer than they were on the Mount Street site.”

I don’t think anyone is better off in a situation where they are sleeping in an area that isn’t secure… and I don’t think anyone is better off in a location where they don’t have access to sanitation services. They don’t have access to showers, they don’t have access to regular meals. 

He said the Government “can’t compel” people to stay in provided accommodation but that the offer remained open to those who wanted to return to Crooksling. 

Finally, the minister said that January and February of this year had seen record numbers of people coming to Ireland seeking International Protection, and denied that the Government had a policy in place of not providing accommodation in order to deter people from coming here.

“Absolutely not. No such policy exists. The sole reason that people are not being accommodated is that we cannot bring on sufficient additional accommodation right now,” he said.

 Situation on Mount Street

At least 25 asylum seekers had returned to the Mount Street area last night, with about a dozen tents set up in the area.

One man, Sibin, told The Journal that he and his friends stayed at the site in Crooksling 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,” he said.

Other asylum seekers said that the site was too remote and it was much colder there than on Mount Street. There are now about a dozen tents set up again on Mount Street.

The Government has been strongly criticised for the way in which it handled the issue yesterday. Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin posted today on social media site X that it was a “deeply cynical and unacceptable way to treat human beings”.

“These men should be provided with shelter not tents in the Dublin mountains. Nobody, no matter where they are from, should be forced to sleep rough because of Govt incompetence!”

 With reporting from Jane Moore

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