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Tents pitched on Dublin's Grand Canal on Saturday, 25 May.

Taoiseach indicates asylum seeker tents to be cleared from Dublin's Grand Canal this week

Simon Harris also said that towns and villages across the country with one hotel will not see it being used to accommodate refugees in the future.


TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS has indicated that tents belonging to asylum seekers who are sleeping rough along Dublin’s Grand Canal will be cleared again this week.

Around 100 tents were removed from a section of the canal’s bank and more metal fencing was erected in their place last week.

The clearance came following a similar operation on 9 May, when asylum seekers were removed on busses to Crooksling and Citywest.

However, a number of international protection applicants who remain unaccommodated by the State are now sleeping there.

Speaking to reporters at the launch of Fine Gael’s European and Local Election manifestos, Harris said there is “active work going on” in relation to the tents. 

“There was a multi-agency meeting as recently as today in relation to that and I do expect progress on those throughout the week,” he said. 

When asked how long the metal barriers that have been erected to block areas of the canal would remain for, Harris said that legally, it is a matter for Dublin City Council. 

However, he added: “My own view in relation to this if they should remain for as short a period of time as possible.”

He said he understands that they were erected under a specific provision that the local government has for a short-term basis while the tents are removed and to ensure that they do not immediately reappear. 

542Fine Gael Election Launch_90706082 Taoiseach Simon Harris speaking at the launch of Fine Gael’s European and Local Election manifestos this afternoon.

“I certainly don’t want to see a scenario where they become anything like a semi-permanent feature of our beautiful city,” he added. 

Harris also confirmed that the Government will stop funding homelessness charities for providing tents and sleeping bags to asylum seekers, but he said they will only do so “when we can provide enough tented accommodation ourselves”.

He thanked charities for the work that they are doing, but said: “I also know that it’s not safe and secure for people to be having to pitch tents in public areas without access to sanitation.

“As more State land becomes available, and as we can provide you with safe and secure tented accommodation with access to sanitation, it would then make sense to be directing you there, rather than to be funding a charity to give you a tent that, quite frankly, can’t meet those standards.”

He said he expects the Government to meet this “in the next number of weeks”. 


Harris also told reporters that towns and villages across the country with one hotel will not see it being used to accommodate refugees in the future, with the Government transition away from this towards tented accommodation with services. 

He said that on two occasions in Co Kerry, hotels that were being used for refugee accommodation have been “put back to their original use”. 

“As we go through the summer months, the number of Ukrainians in State accommodation has fallen significantly. That will enable us to put hotels that were being used for Ukrainian accommodation back into public use.”

He described this as “quite exciting” because it means that the town or the village might get their hotel back.

“I’ve spoken to the Minister for Integration about this. While the accommodation situation is very challenging, I believe over the summer you will see dozens of contracts that have been entered into by the state for Ukrainian accommodation being left and that is a good thing,” he said.

“We’ve also said in our comprehensive accommodation strategy – that’s been agreed between the three [coalition] parties – that we intend to stop the use of the only hotel in the town or village.

“That is absolutely the direction of travel. The time it takes to get there is dependent on a number of things.”

He said the Government intends to exit dozens of contracts with hotels over the summer months.

“As we move forward, I want to be honest with people. It’s not going to be about using turnkey accommodation in the short-term. It’s not going to be about just being able to use the hotel. It is going to be about safe, secure tented accommodation with proper sanitation.”

He added that a “much more rounded” conversation about migration is needed and should not only focus on accommodation. 

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