By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Local businesses, schools, clubs and community groups have condemned “hateful” demonstrations held outside a hotel housing asylum seekers and refugees in a Dublin suburb.
All three TDs for the Dublin North-West constituency – Dessie Ellis (Sinn Féin), Paul McAuliffe (Fianna Fáil) and Róisín Shortall (Social Democrats) – have also signed a document criticising the protests, as well as the six Ballymun-Finglas councillors.
Over the weekend, hundreds of people gathered outside the building in Ballymun, with some heard chanting “get them out” and one person holding a sign saying “Ireland is full”.
Ministers said they were concerned and “disturbed” by the scenes, with Justice Minister Simon Harris calling them a form of “intimidation” and not a protest.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that holding a protest outside where people, particularly children, are living “crosses a line”.
Dublin lord mayor Caroline Conroy, a Ballymun native, has said that the demonstrations do not represent the views of the community, and said that members of the far right, who were not from the area, were stoking people’s fears.
Ms Conroy is one of the dozen local public representatives who signed the statement on Thursday evening supporting the housing of refugees in Ballymun.
Dublin Gaelic footballer Philly McMahon, the Bohemian Football Club, Ballymun Men’s Shed, Ballymun Tidy Towns and the local Supervalu are also among the 40 signatories.
The statement reads: “We stand in solidarity with the vast majority of the people of Ballymun in opposing the abuse and hatred directed at refugees and asylum seekers in Ballymun over the last few days.
“Men, women and children, be they residents or newcomers, should not fear for their safety in their homes or on our streets.
“We know that only a small minority of people from the area are taking part, and the abuse is orchestrated by far-right groups.
“The people of Ballymun are generally upset with the ‘protests’, and they fear that the reputation of this welcoming and diverse community is being tarnished.
“There are many things we need to fix in our area and in our country, such as housing and homelessness, poverty, social equality, drug treatment services, employment, health services, our environment and community facilities. We do not believe that these issues should be used by some groups to stoke up fear and hate.
“As organisations and as individuals we are working and we will continue to work collectively to make our area better, bringing out the best in people and fighting for positive change. We are determined to respond to the ‘protests’, including through meeting with the new residents to welcome and reassure them.
“We are redoubling our efforts in our schools and businesses, and in our youth, community and sports groups, and as public representatives, to promote integration.”
On Thursday evening, a protest was held again in Ballymun in which Garda members were in attendance.
A demonstration was also held outside an old ESB building in Dublin’s East Wall, where migrants are being housed.
Protests have been held at the location in recent months after some people claimed there was not enough consultation with locals ahead of moving migrants in.
As a result, the government committed to better engagement with communities before such decisions are made.
The group, East Wall Here For All, was set up to show solidarity in the wake of the protests being held, and has raised over €6,500 to help welcome new residents into the community.