A planned protest against the use of a former ESB office building to house refugees on Dublin’s East Wall was canceled after Integration Secretary Roderic O’Gorman announced he would be meeting with local residents to hear their concerns.
Red tests took place outside the site on Saturday and Monday, with local residents taking part, but far-right activists were also among the crowds, encouraging people online to take part.
Mr O’Gorman said earlier Tuesday “nefarious groups” were stoking fears over arrivals as the country grapples with an influx of refugees from the war in Ukraine and other asylum-seekers.
On Tuesday night, independent councilor Nial Ring said a protest planned for Wednesday had been canceled and he distanced residents from groups with “racist agendas” who had previously attended.
“Right from the start of this public relations disaster for the government, residents of the area just wanted communication, contact and conversations to get their legitimate questions answered and their concerns addressed,” Mr Ring said in a statement Tuesday night.
He said residents and representatives would meet the minister on Friday and ask questions about the people who will be housed in the block, how long and whether the building is suitable.
“These questions could have been addressed much earlier and all the rumours, misinformation and idle speculation prevented, but at least answers will be forthcoming now,” he said.
“The East Wall community is pleased that there is progress on this, and the last thing they wanted was to be ‘lumped together’ with some of the groups who took part in the protests with their own sinister, bigoted and racist intentions ‘ to become,” Mr Ring said.
Earlier, Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe said he would meet with East Wall residents over protests.
Over 300 people took part in a demonstration against the center on Saturday, while a large crowd gathered for a second protest on Monday night.
Mr Donohoe, a TD for the area, said he was concerned by the rhetoric that was being expressed by some of those present.
“I’m really, really concerned about some of the words I’ve heard,” Mr Donohoe told Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder programme.
“Before I describe it as racist, because that’s a very strong term, I’ll be reaching out directly to the groups and residents who were involved because it’s in my constituency.
“The people of East Wall, who I have the honor to represent at the Dáil, now in my third term, are tremendously decent and an amazingly strong and welcoming community.
“And many residents there are raising genuine concerns about the location of this facility and I will address those serious concerns.”
At yesterday’s demonstration, some people could be heard shouting “Get them out,” while one person reportedly said, “Northern downtown has been vandalized by foreigners.”
Mr Donohoe said there was a “very rich and multicultural and very strong” local community in downtown North, adding: “I completely reject that kind of language.”
“But I will continue to work with residents and groups that are raising some of these issues, but I’m really sure I disagree with some of the expressions used and some of the approaches and it’s not language I would use and it’s not Language I think many would use,” he said.
“I will advocate for my community, the communities I represent, and do our part in that response, and then I have a duty to address issues raised by communities that relate to how we do deal with these facilities and I will,” he added.
Earlier this morning several opposition politicians condemned the protests.
Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the protests must “stop immediately”, while Richard Boyd Barrett, TD of People Before Profit, said people’s concerns about the housing crisis were “justified” but they should not be directed at refugees .
Social Democrat TD Gary Gannon said there were “fringe elements” of the far right involved in the protests.
“In the absence of leadership, in the absence of people who see their government and state have their backs, they become desperate,” he said.
“Over the past weekend and weeks, we’ve seen fringe elements of the far right come in and manipulate people.”
Ahead of yesterday’s demonstration, local Fine Gael Councilor Ray McAdam described it as “the worst Donald Trump-type politics”.
“It’s a terrible situation. I’ve seen some of the comments made on social media over the weekend and I’m concerned about the whole far-right issue,” he told Independent.ie.
“Some of the comments were absolutely appalling and I reject that type of politics. It’s Donald Trump-type politics at its worst, and sadly, this is where it rears its ugly head.
“I understand there are serious concerns at East Wall about how this is being handled. There was no prior consultation and there are concerns about the suitability of the premises,” he added.
“But some of those concerns have been drowned out by the hard right.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/further-east-wall-protests-called-off-as-integration-minister-to-meet-local-residents-over-refugee-centre-42165821.html Further protests on Ostwall canceled as integration minister to meet residents about refugee home