Monday, May 20, 2024

‘Action will be taken’ on Grand Canal tents – Taoiseach

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Taoiseach Simon Harris has pledged that “action will be taken” to move the tents of asylum seekers in Dublin city centre.

There are now 100 tents pitched along the Grand Canal, sheltering unaccommodated International Protection applicants.

The number has been rising steadily since the first tents were pitched between Mount Street Bridge and Huband Bridge on Friday evening.

The location is just a few hundred yards from the International Protection Office where around 100 tents were removed in a multi-agency operation this day last week.

Mr Harris said the moving of tents from Mount Street averted a public health emergency and it was a “good action.”

Mr Harris said some hotels which had been used for migrants are now available again for tourism as the Government seeks to engage with communities and listen to their concerns.

The International Protection Office is located on Mount Street in Dublin city centre

The Taoiseach was responding to Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae who accused the Government of losing control of the migration issue.

Almost 300 unaccommodated asylum seekers who had been living in the tents on Mount Street were offered alternative accommodation last week in Citywest and Crooksling in Dublin.

However, new figures released today show that there are currently 1,764 International Protection Applicants without State-provided shelter.

That is 54 more people than yesterday, according to the Department of Integration.

The Department usually only published figures on Tuesdays and Fridays but unexpectedly updated the figures today.

The figures show that 98 male asylum seekers arrived since Friday.

Eighty-eight of those have not been offered State-provided accommodation, but ten were offered a place following a vulnerability triage.

‘Action will be taken’ – Taoiseach

“We’ll deal with Grand Canal. Action will be taken,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil following calls from across the Opposition to debate the issue.

Mr Harris later told a meeting of his parliamentary party that as issues arise, like what has happened alongside the city canal, they will be dealt with.

He said the situation there was not comparable to what occurred at Mount Street as that was allowed to continue for several months before last week’s multi-agency operation.

Mr Harris said there is a role for every Government department to help resolve the migration issue in a coherent and collegiate fashion.

He said it required a more broad response than just accommodation solutions.

Earlier, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil that the tents on Mount Street had been “repeated” on the Grand Canal, and called it “an outrage”.

It is a “monument to your abject failure” to tackle the issue, she told Mr Harris, adding that public confidence in the Government “is entirely set at zero”.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said that people having to live in the tents was “inhumane and unsustainable”.

The Government is engaged in “a desperate stop-gap attempt to move people along,” she added.

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Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore also called for a debate on the issue.

Mr Harris said that 290 people “got accommodation” as a result of the Government’s action, which he defended.

“Good action was taken by good Government.”

Situation ‘dangerous’ – Martin

Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the developing tent situation at the Grand Canal in Dublin is “unacceptable” for both local residents and migrants, saying the current scenario is “dangerous”.

Speaking to RTÉ News at the Arbour Hill commemoration event in Dublin city, Mr Martin rejected opposition suggestions that the Government does not have control of the situation by saying “there is a plan”.

However, he said the current number of tents “are unacceptable” for both local residents and migrants, adding that in his view the current scenario is “dangerous” because “the facilities aren’t there”.

Mr Martin said the Government is “determined” to address the issue and the wider causes of what is happening, but said “we’re at [asylum seeker] numbers we’ve never experienced before”.


Read more: Families processed away from Mount Street IPO Office


Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste said the issue is not a new problem and other solutions need to be considered.

He told RTÉ’s Drivetime: “The Taoiseach can say that we need to move away from the accommodation problem, but unfortunately, that is the problem that we are left with.

“I think we need to do more, and if you are asking me, I think it is about time the State agencies step up here, in terms of what gets delivered.”

He added: “There is no humanity there, but I think also it is not right on residents, in terms of cleanliness and all this.”

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said the situation was very frustrating for everybody involved in politics.

He told the same programme: “Moving people from Mount Street and then over onto the canal, and next week it will be somewhere else.”

The Government is continuously acting in a “state of crisis,” he added.

Call for IPO to be moved from city centre

The chair of the South Georgian Core Residents Association has called for the International Protection Office to be moved out of the city centre.

Kevin Byrne said it clearly cannot operate safely on a city thoroughfare anymore.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said: “It demonstrably can’t handle the inflow it’s getting there or safely provide the supports that are needed. Wrap-around supports are clearly needed. It’s important that security, sanitation and other basic services can be provided.”

He pointed out that families are now processed at Citywest where a range of supports can be offered.

“We think all processes should be moved to a location like that,” he said.

He added that a broken system, that is failing both asylum seekers and residents, cannot be tolerated any longer.

Additional reporting Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Tommy Meskill and Mícheál Lehane

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