Photo credit: Gript

East Wall locals set to protest in defiance of opposition parties

The Leftwing opposition parties of People Before Profit, Labour and the Social Democrats have all called for an end to the ongoing asylum protests taking place in East Wall.

Last night as many as 700 locals from the East Wall area of Dublin gathered to protest an asylum centre in their area, just days after a similar event took place over the weekend.

Both protests have taken place outside the former ESB building, which has been converted into accommodation for refugees by the government. Locals were reportedly not consulted about the building being repurposed, and were later told that the centre was earmarked for Ukrainian women and children.

However, protesters now say that all of the refugees bused in under cover of darkness turned out to be young, adult men from Africa and the Middle East. This created significant unease among locals, as they say the new arrivals are unvetted.

Several speakers said that the community was being asked to take a risk on hundreds of people being placed in their area, and pointed out that a primary school and a secondary school were within close proximity of the centre.

However, several Leftwing opposition parties have slammed the protesters and called for an end to the demonstrations.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said he didn’t want to see such events take place again.

“I don’t want to see those scenes again,” said Gannon, speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1.

“People have a right to seek international protection in this country. They are here seeking sanctuary and refuge, and we have an obligation to meet that.”

Notably, speakers at the event on Monday stressed that the workers and refugees inside the building were “not the enemy,” but were merely “being used as pawns,” and that the crowd should instead direct its frustrations towards Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman.

Despite this, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett accused locals of “scapegoating” asylum seekers.

“We want to make a special plea to people to not have their justified anger over the housing and homelessness crisis directed into the scapegoating of people who are fleeing war and looking for asylum,” he said.

Additionally, Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin said that the protests need to stop “immediately.”

“These protests need to stop and need to stop immediately. We want to send our solidarity to those who are now located in that ESB building,” said Mr Ó Ríordáin.

He added: “It is not good enough for the scenes we have witnessed in the past couple of days for people to take to the streets in such a manner.”

Despite these calls, local residents are still set to protest for a third time later on this evening, apparently in defiance of political calls.

Solicitor and local resident Malachy Steenson, who participated in both of the previous protests, said that several years ago an asylum centre was proposed in the affluent Dublin area of Ballsbridge. However, he said that locals took legal action to have the plan shut down in that case.

“If it’s not good enough for Ballsbridge where the upper and professional classes live, then it’s not good enough for East Wall,” he said.

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