Asylum seekers to be housed in three new centres in Dublin

Government will also continue to host people seeking international protection in Co Clare despite ‘unacceptable’ protests at Magowna House

The former Senior College Dún Laoghaire building on Eblana Avenue, needs significant works before it is habitable. Photograph: Google Street View

The Government will press ahead with housing asylum seekers in Co Clare despite local protests. It also plans to open centres in Santry, Clondalkin and Dún Laoghaire in Dublin for people seeking international protection in the coming months.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said that the continuing blockade of Magowna House in Co Clare by some local residents was “absolutely unacceptable”, adding that pressure from the numbers of asylum seekers who have come to Ireland seeking protection meant that the facility must be used.

He said yesterday that people seeking international protection would continue to sleep in tents in the coming weeks, despite, he acknowledged, threats to their safety.

While the Government has indicated it will bring up to 350 beds on stream in the near future, documents distributed to TDs recently outline plans for a larger, phased process accommodating people at two larger sites – Dolcain House in Clondalkin and a warehouse in Airways industrial estate in Santry, Dublin, where a total of nearly 700 people will be housed between the two centres.


There will also be two smaller sites – Magowna House into which IP applicants are already being moved; while the fourth site, at the former Senior College Dún Laoghaire building on Eblana Avenue, needs significant works before it is habitable.

According to documents given to TDs, more than 300 single men will be accommodated in Santry, while 386 will be housed in Clondalkin.

Some criticism of the plan was already apparent yesterday. Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall complained about a “complete failure ... to consult with residents and the business community about the proposal”.

Speaking in Reykjavik in Iceland, where he was attending a meeting of European leaders, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that communities could not have a “veto” over who could live in their area. However, he acknowledged that people have legitimate concerns.

“Nobody gets to say who can or cannot live in their area. And we can’t have that kind of situation. But I think we shouldn’t dismiss concerns people have about their locality,” he said.

Later, Mr Varadkar suggested that social supports for asylum seekers could be aligned with other European countries so that there is no “pull factor” to attract migrants.

“What we’re trying to do when it comes to the kind of support and offering that we have [in Ireland] is to align them with other European countries so that they’re roughly the same,” he said.

Mr Varadkar’s comments come amid widespread unease among Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs about the refugee issue, with many critical of the lack of consultation with locals in Co Clare.

Mr O’Gorman had strong words for protesters, amid reports that one had boarded a bus bringing residents of the facility to Ennis in order to count how many were leaving Magowna House.

Mr O’Gorman said: “If that is the case, it is absolutely unacceptable. I think both that and the blockade outside the centre is entirely unacceptable. People have the right to protest, people have the right to disagree with Government policy, but prevent people accessing the accommodation that they have is not acceptable and I would ask the people on the blockade to reflect on where they’re at at the moment.”

Migrants in Clare: ‘Here is much better than Citywest. For 2½ months, I was sleeping on a chair’Opens in new window ]

New figures from the Department of Justice suggested that the reduction in the numbers of people arriving to seek international protection in recent months is continuing, a development which will be viewed with private relief in Government. Some 633 people arrived in April, down from 858 the previous month and 831 in February. The typical figure for last year was about 1,300 a month.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times