Simon Harris says the state deports people every month – including nearly 130 people in January

Attorney General Simon Harris said the state was deporting people every month, including nearly 130 people in January, as he hit back at claims by the far right.

At his peak on Saturday, Mr Harris said there were “worlds of difference” between local communities asking questions about refugee housing in their area and “some of the bully, bullying behavior” that has “ranged from the extreme” in recent days spurred on to the right”.

He insisted that “deportation warrants are issued every month for those who have no right to be here” as he tried to slam back claims by far-right activists and others involved in the recent protests.

Deportation orders resumed last September after being suspended for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Harris said: “There are myths and misinformation being propagated by some that we don’t have a rules-based immigration system in this country and I just want to be really, really clear.

“This is a country with a fair, compassionate immigration system that welcomes people here and protects those fleeing persecution.

“But we also have rules for people who come here who do not have a residence permit, and 128 deportation orders were issued in the month of January alone.”

He said the Government needs to do better outreach to communities and tackle misinformation about Ireland’s immigration system.

“Let’s not fool ourselves either, this won’t please some of those who want to incite decision and fear, it won’t please the far right, it won’t please the people who are using those ridiculous hashtags ‘Ireland is Full’ walk around , they will never be satisfied,” he said.

“So it’s not about putting on a nice information campaign to keep these people happy, it’s about recognizing that people in their communities like and, I think, have a right to be better informed or with to be provided with more information about what is actually going on in their local area”.

He said the government was working “around the clock” to assess accommodation options for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine and for applicants for international protection.

He said while hotels may try to end contracts housing refugees to take advantage of the tourist season, student accommodation like last summer would be available.

He said the state needs to “really need to think outside the box” and look at all housing options. “I think we really need to cast the net as far as possible,” he said.

He said he doesn’t accept that there are large numbers in anti-refugee protests and that “a small number of far-right actors traveling from city to city trying to foment divisions”.

Separately, a crowd of a few hundred people took part in a march against asylum seekers in Dublin this afternoon.

A speaker, who did not identify himself at the Garden of Remembrance event, said he was part of a new group called Irish Communities Together.

“I’m a member of this community and glad to see you all here. I’m here as a father of four and I know I’m only here because I’m worried. God knows if something happens to my children I won’t be here to take revenge, I will be here to take revenge on all these undocumented migrants who have come to this country. Take over. Guys I’m asking you all now let’s peacefully march down O’Connell Street and around Christchurch and send a clear message – we don’t want them here.”

People shouted “F*** them out” after the man’s speech before the crowd marched through downtown shouting various slogans including “Leo, Leo Leo, get out, get out, get out” and “immigrants out.” Simon Harris says the state deports people every month – including nearly 130 people in January

Fry Electronics Team

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