On Friday last, a briefing was arranged for elected representatives and a “select few” of members of local residents committees at the proposed refugee accommodation centre at the former Fun Galaxy premises on the North Road in Finglas.
The briefing was given by officials from the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) and an official from Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s Department for Equality etc. Also present was one of the owners of the premises who was pressing for an early opening of the site, and apparently became quite animated during the proceedings.
According to officials, the contracts for the provision of services at the site have not yet been signed and a Freedom of Information request sent by Gript regarding any payments that have been made to the owners or former owners of the site awaits a response. It is, however, intended to move people in soon and an official stated that while the initial contract would be for nine months, that any extension would be dependent on the conflict in Ukraine.
Those attending the meeting were informed that it is proposed that Ukrainian families will be housed in the premises, rather than the single young men who were not Ukrainian who were first accommodated there when it opened suddenly and with no prior notice in August. It is now officially accepted that it was planned to move 220 single men onto the site, something that was at first denied.
According to other media reports there were concerns expressed over “aggressive protestors” and that windows had been smashed. This was claimed to have taken place on the night of August 16, but when Gript attended a protest outside of the centre on Saturday August 20, there were no signs of windows having been smashed. There are a number of damaged windows now, as can be seen in the video, but this only took place after the alleged incidents.
The briefing was attended by two local TDs, Paul McAuliffe of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis, as well as several local councillors. While local people are prepared to wait to see whether in fact the premises will accommodate people from Ukraine, this was also what people were told in August. The meeting was told that it is planned to organise a public meeting soon to inform the local community as to what is planned.
Gript emailed all of the local TDs and councillors who were at the briefing, as well as those who did not attend, requesting among other items whether the elected representatives were prepared to say who it is intended to accommodate at North Road.
Gript later received an email from Fianna Fáil Councillor, Briege Mac Oscar in which she confirmed that subject to a contract being signed that the centre will open, but that “there is no proposed date at present.” Councillor Mac Oscar also stated that those accommodated will be “ essentially families displaced by the war in Ukraine.” She is not yet aware of any definite plan to hold a public meeting on the issues raised.
One of the evident themes around the Finglas site, as it has been and will be in any part of the country where refugee accommodation is raised, is the attempt to portray anyone who questions what is proposed as “far right” and “racist.” As with so many other key parts of the establishment narrative this is something that is shared right across the political spectrum and is supported by the mainstream media and NGOs and business people with a direct interest in the asylum sector.
Thus, on Friday, Dessie Ellis emerged to first of all state that all of those accommodated would be women and children, and when challenged resorted to claiming that one woman present was only there because of her “right wing attitude.” Ironically, most of the people there who I spoke to had voted for Sinn Féin in previous elections.
A former failed candidate of the far left for the area Bernie Hughes, who was one of the “select few” – as described by Dessie Ellis – who were invited despite not appearing to represent anyone, also threw out slogans about “racists” and “far right.” Ms. Hughes was briefly well known in the area for having attempted to disrupt a local school’s 50th anniversary celebration because of the presence of President Michael D, Higgins who she seemed to think had something to do with the water charges.
A local woman who has a record of local community involvement including as secretary of one of the local residents groups was only admitted after being asked to produce identification twice. The representative of the local Jamestown residents also asked some questions which were apparently not fully satisfactorily answered.
Those answers will await what actually happens at the North Road premises over the next number of weeks. Some of those might also be provided at the planned local meeting to be held, and in a leaflet that it was stated will be published and distributed explaining what it is planned to do with the centre.
Finally, and most poignantly, is that right at the gable end of the building – not even 20 feet from the door, is a tent used by a homeless person. That tent has apparently been damaged since the proposal to re-open the accommodation centre.
This article was changed on the 8th November to include information from CllrBriege Mac Oscar