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Workers removing tents on Mount Street this morning RollingNews.ie
Dublin

Mount Street: Several asylum seekers without beds after makeshift encampment is dismantled

‘Just under’ 290 people have been moved to Citywest and Crooksling.

LAST UPDATE | 1 May

SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE been refused accommodation at the Citywest following the dismantling of a makeshift migrant camp in the city centre, it is understood.

It comes after “just under” 290 people were removed from an encampment outside the International Protection Office (IPO) on Mount Street during a multi-agency operation today.

They have been relocated to alternative accommodation at Citywest and the Crooksling tented accommodation site.

The Government said 186 have availed of accommodation at the Citywest, while 99 availed of accommodation at Crooksling and that it is not possible to give a timelime for how long these people will be accommodated at both locations. 

However, a spokesperson later said that a number of other asylum seekers – who the Government believe were staying at locations other than Mount Street – sought accommodation at Citywest but were refused.

In a statement, officials said the centre is now at capacity and added: “Their details have been taken and they will be offered accommodation as it becomes available.”

Speaking at an event at Farmleigh House this afternoon, Taoiseach Simon Harris thanked the agencies involved in clearing the migrant tents from Mount Street for their “very excellent work”.

“It was an important day in terms of a humanitarian response to the unacceptable situation people in tents found themselves in on Mount Street.

“It was also an important day for the laws of our land, because this is a country that does have laws, and as Taoiseach I expect those laws to be enforced.”

He added:

You can’t have a scenario where in a very ad hoc fashion these kind of tented villages are nearly allowed to develop.

“The operation doesn’t end now and I will expect all of the agency partners to continue to work together to respond and, at what is a difficult, challenging time, to meet the humanitarian needs of people, but also to enforce and uphold the laws of this country.”

The encampment has been in place on Mount Street for a number of months, after the State said it could not accommodate hundreds of asylum seekers who arrived to Ireland due to a shortfall in capacity.

The tents were given to people who arrived to the International Protection Office by volunteer groups, and were pitched in rows on the pathway at Mount Street and surrounding streets.

The Government had signalled in recent days that it would seek to remove the tents, with Taoiseach Simon Harris telling the Dáil yesterday that he did not believe they should be there.

Harris initially declined to tell reporters yesterday when the tents would be removed.

This morning, machinery was onsite removing the tents from around 7am, and crews later washed down the streets and installed fencing on the pavement.

There are now a number of steel barriers along the pathway where the tents were located before their removal.

Workers from an events company and a traffic solutions company erected the fences on either side of Mount Street once the paths had been swept and power-washed.

On one side of the street, workers created a chicane that had enough room for people to walk in and out of offices and down the street, but left little room to pitch a tent.

Other metal barricades arrived on trucks which blocked the footpath outside of the International Protection Office.

Mount Street-21_90704560 A worker cleans the pavement on Mount Street with a pressure washer this morning RollingNews.ie RollingNews.ie

IMG_2816 Fencing erected on Mount Street this morning Muiris Ó Cearbhaill / The Journal Muiris Ó Cearbhaill / The Journal / The Journal

Mount Street had closed to traffic for a time today to facilitate the removal of tents, but subsequently re-opened after 3pm.

In a statement, the Government said: “The purpose of the operation is to ensure the safe movement of people seeking international protection from the tents on Mount Street to IPAS-designated accommodation.”

It said the site at Crooksling has “robust, weather-proof” tents with showers, health services, indoor areas where food is provided, as well as access to Dublin city centre and 24-hour security.

“The encampment at Mount Street has been dismantled and the streets are being cleaned by Dublin City Council,” it added.

Gardaí said earlier that the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) was the “lead agency” in the operation. Traffic had been diverted away from Mount Street.

It’s understood that there were more tents set up along Mount Street this morning than there were yesterday. 

Dublin City Council also said earlier that people camping on Mount Street has “led to conditions that were unhealthy, unsafe and unsanitary”. 

The local authority said that today’s “removal of waste and the subsequent cleaning of streets by city council crews only occurred after all areas were throughly checked for any personal belongings”.

The Journal / YouTube

Speaking to The Journal this morning, one of the men who had been living in a tent in Mount Street for around six weeks said he “can’t believe” he is going to get to “sleep on an actual bed”.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman, who has departmental responsibility for accommodating asylum seekers, described the tents as an “extremely difficult situation” for people living in them and local residents and businesses on Mount Street.

He said that the accommodation at Crooksling and Citywest was not mandatory for people who were staying in tents, but expressed hope that they would avail of what was being offered.

“We’re not in a position, I suppose, to give people the choice of where they’re accommodated,” he said.

“All the people who are sleeping rough in Mount Street have now been given an offer of accommodation. I hope they take up that offer.”

O’Gorman also confirmed that a number of people have been moved to a site at Trudder House in Newtownmountkennedy, which has been the subject of local protests in recent weeks.

Tánaiste Micheal Martin claimed today’s operation at Mount Street would ensure the “safe movement of people” who are seeking asylum in Ireland.

He said that tents on Mount Street were “not acceptable for migrants” and that it was important that the State look after those living in them properly.

“The state has, within its powers, the capacity to make sure we don’t have tents back up on Mount Street or other streets and our view in Government is very clear is that we can’t have tents in streets adjacent to neighbourhoods,” he said.

“It’s not good for those seeking asylum and not for residents in the area, and it can create a lot of tension.” 

‘Makeshift shantytowns’

Today’s operation comes a day after Taoiseach Simon Harris told the Dáil yesterday that he would “clear” Mount Street and ensure “makeshift shantytowns” were not allowed to develop again, stating that he did not believe the encampment complied with the “laws of the land”.

He was responding to Labour leader Ivana Bacik’s criticism of the “desperately unsanitary conditions on Mount Street” as “inhumane and unsustainable” and indicative of a failure of government policy.

In March, The Journal spoke to Ola, an asylum seeker who had been sleeping in a tent there for more than a month, said that the lack of toilet facilities available was becoming a serious issue, with human faeces being left on the street near the tents (evidence of this was seen by The Journal)

whatsapp-image-2024-03-12-at-16-22-46 A photo from March showing a large amount of rubbish built up near the tents.

Ola said that the people living in the tents are not allowed to use bathrooms in the International Protection Office, and that they were being advised to use the toilets in the day facilities that the Department of Integration has contracted to provide meals, showering facilities, tents and other services to asylum seekers. 

The two main day services being used, the Capuchin Day Centre and Merchants Quay Ireland, are 3.2km and 2.5km away respectively.

The Lighthouse cafe has also been providing toilet facilities, but it is only open at select times in the morning and evening, and closed after 10pm most evenings. It is 1.2km away. 

1000008384 Some of the tents outside the International Protection Office Órla Ryan / The Journal Órla Ryan / The Journal / The Journal

Harris today thanked the multiple State agencies involved in this morning’s operation, adding that the situation “had become completely unacceptable”. 

“The laws of our land must always be upheld and we cannot have unsafe and illegal encampments in our cities or towns,” he said. 

Speaking to reporters at Mount Street this morning, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said she welcomes “that the Government has finally moved to address what had become inhumane and unsustainable conditions here for those seeking refuge to who were forced to sleep in tents on the street”. 

She said the number of people sleeping in tents in the area had been increasing in recent days. 

Bacik said local residents and traders have been “very sympathetic” to the situation but also “deeply frustrated” at the “apparent inability of government to find appropriate and safe accommodation elsewhere”. 

Previous attempt to clear site

The tents on Mount Street were previously cleared on 16 March and many of the people were brought to a site in Crooksling in the Dublin Mountains.

This move was criticised by members of the Opposition, who said it seemed as though the tents were primarily being cleared for the benefit of tourists ahead of St Patrick’s Day.

Some of the people stayed at Mount Street or returned from Crooksling shortly after being moved.

Speaking to reporters at Mount Street this morning, Irish Refugee Council CEO Nick Henderson said that “anything to take somebody off the streets is welcome”, but added that “the experience of St Patrick’s Day weekend was that people were taken to a site that at that time was not suitable and was problematic”. 

“We really hope that they’ve been taken somewhere where they can get respite from what they’ve experienced, which is pretty serious,” Henderson said. 

“We’ve worked with people there who’ve been there for weeks. Conditions were terrible. So we hope they get some respite,” he said. 

Reporting from Hayley Halpin, Christina Finn, Muiris O’Cearbhaill, Órla Ryan, Stephen McDermott and Jane Matthews.

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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