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'Racist' attack on Dublin homeless camp described as a 'sickening low'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and integration junior minister Joe O’Brien have both condemned the incident.

AN ATTACK ON a homeless camp in Ashtown in Dublin has been described as a “sickening low” and criticised by senior members of the Government.

On Saturday afternoon, gardaí received reports of an incident on River Road, Ashtown, Dublin 15.

A garda spokesperson said they “responded quickly and engaged with those present”.

While no formal complaints have been made at this time, gardaí say enquiries are ongoing.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the incident as a “racist attack” and said he would seek more information from Gardaí.

“I don’t have the report from the Gardaí yet but I am going to seek one,” he told Newstalk.

“I am always reluctant to comment on something without knowing the full facts but it has the feel and look of, essentially, a racist attack.”

Earlier, Junior minister for integration Joe O’Brien also said he was “shocked” and “disgusted” at reports of the attack.

“I was shocked, I was disgusted,” he told RTÉ radio.

“It’s very worrying. I’ve worked in the area of migrant rights for 20 years plus, I’ve never been more worried about the safety and security of migrants in the country than I am now.”

In a statement released last night, former Socialist TD and activist Ruth Coppinger said that the attack was carried out by “a number of men with dogs, sticks and a baseball bat”.

Coppinger added that they were shouting “get out” at the occupants of the camp.

The former TD also said that the men “living in the tents are of various EU and non-EU nationalities and had been working and renting here, but had become homeless”.

‘Racist attack’

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Coppinger described the incident as a “racist attack” that was preceded by “online commentary”.

She added: “This is a sickening low in a recent spate of events that have been stirred up by people who are racist or connected to the far right.”

A show of solidarity has been organised for 6pm this evening at Ashtown Station and Coppinger has called for the “entire community and for people who are concerned about this developing racism to come out”.

She told RTÉ that “minorities are really fearful and they’re experiencing more racism”.

Coppinger also dismissed the “online commentary” that preceded the attack and attempted to link migrants to violence against woman.

“The far right are using unvetted males and linking migrants to rape and violence against women,” Coppinger told RTÉ, “which is the oldest racist trick in the book, to attach migrants to sexual violence.

“I’m a campaigner against gender based violence. We have to reject any notion that migrants are associated with violence against women. Male violence against women is a global pandemic and has preceded any migrants coming into the country en masse.”

Coppinger also expressed concern that camps like these are “now becoming a common feature”.

She added that people in the camps are “victims of the housing crisis, of the decade or more of allowing vulture funds and developers to profiteer from the shortage of housing”.

“I lay the perfect storm that’s generating now for the far-right at the door of the government.”

Coppinger added that this is the first attack on homeless people in the Dublin 15 area she has been made aware of and said the incident happened because it involved a “group of non-Irish people”.

Contains reporting by the Press Association.