As many as 700 locals from the East Wall area of Dublin have 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.
Many of those at the demonstration expressed frustration with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and her party for their apparent silence on the issue, with some loudly asking “Where is Mary Lou?” The protest took place in McDonald’s constituency of Dublin Central.
Several times one of the TD’s 2020 election posters was held in front of the crowd, though it had been edited. Where it had previously had the slogan “Working For You,” it was modified to read “Not Working For Us – Working For Herself.” As it was held up, it was met with loud boos by the crowd.
— Chopper 🐺 (@ChopperMaith) November 21, 2022
One local speaker named Nigel Murphy, when addressing the crowd, emphasised 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.
Murphy said that East Wall was a multicultural community that was welcoming to foreign residents, and would remain so. However, he said that the way in which the refugees had been dropped into the area without local consent was unacceptable.
Another local speaker, Malachy Steenson, referred to a similar incident that had taken place in the affluent Dublin neighbourhood of Ballsbridge years ago, where an asylum centre was set to be built in a former religious centre there. Locals in that case took a High Court challenge to oppose the move, and had the plan struck down, he said.
Steenson said that East Wall was being targeted for this plan because it is a working class area, “with no concern” for the consequences, and that the government would not have attempted to do the same in a richer neighbourhood.
The link to Gript’s previous report on the Saturday event can be found below.
Hundreds of local people have protested in East Wall after busses of migrants arrived in the area last night to occupy a former ESB building which has been reportedly refitted for that purpose. There was no consultation with locals the protest heard. https://t.co/RxMa15yOLW
— gript (@griptmedia) November 19, 2022
Gript also reported on an event in Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath, about a similar incident in which locals expressed concerns. The link to that can be viewed here: