Asylum seeker ‘shantytown’ in Dublin will be cleared of tents and refugees housed, Taoiseach tells Dáil

South inner city residents group says it will consider court action on health, safety and privacy grounds unless refugee tents are cleared from areas around International Protection Office on Mount Street

Taoiseach Simon Harris has said Lower Mount Street in Dublin city centre will be cleared of tents, and asylum seekers currently camped in the vicinity of the International Protection Office provided with safer and sanitary accommodation.

Mr Harris said in the Dáil that, once cleared, the tents would not be allowed back. The Government would make sure “that the laws of the land are applied and it is not allowed to happen again”.

Mr Harris said “we do not live in a country where makeshift shantytowns are allowed to just develop” and they would not allow a situation of “ad hocery” accommodation developments.

He was responding to Labour leader Ivana Bacik, who said the tented accommodation at Mount Street was the “clearest evidence” of the Government’s failure on migration.


Ms Bacik, in whose Dublin Bay South constituency the tents are located, said that hundreds of people were sleeping in tents, and makeshift shelters “in desperately unsanitary conditions”.

The Labour leader said she visited the site on Tuesday morning, speaking with local residents and traders. “They are sympathetic to the plight of those in tents, but also deeply frustrated at the deteriorating situation. We see more and more tents each day, no access to sanitation and no sign of any action from Government.

“It is inhumane and unsustainable. The Government has no accommodation strategy – even while big public buildings like Baggot Street Hospital sit scandalously idle nearby.”

The Taoiseach said Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman was working “very actively” with a number of other agencies and organisations to “provide all those vulnerable people living in tents with access to accommodation and a safer setting as quickly as possible”. He insisted that “that is happening”.

Last Thursday, Mr Harris has held a meeting with Ministers, senior officers from An Garda Síochána and officials from Dublin City Council to discuss how to find alternative accommodation quickly for an estimated 200 asylum seekers living in tents in the city centre.

There was an attempt in March to clear the site and to transfer those staying in tents to a facility in Crooksling in Co Dublin. However, a significant number of those who were moved gradually returned to tents in the city centre.

Meanwhile, a residents group in Dublin’s south inner city have formed an association calling for those living in tents in the Mount Street area to be moved to a “more appropriate space of accommodation or interim shelter” within the next month or it will “seek legal relief in the courts”.

Residents in Madison Court, Grattan Court, Grattan Hall, Power’s Court, South Georgian Residents Association and Verschoyle Court senior citizens, who are part of the group, want to “see this encampment gone within the next month”. The group has indicated that it will go to court on the grounds that access, safety, privacy, and health concerns are affecting residents “reasonable enjoyment of their properties”.

Local businesses including Punnett Food Emporium, Mamma Mia restaurant, O’Connors and Gemini Systems Ltd have also signed up to the group.

“We are appalled at the encampment of asylum seekers established in our neighbourhood, how it has been allowed to develop and the lack of communication and response of the authorities to our concerns,” the Residents’ Network Mount and Grattan St Areas said in a statement.

The group was “sympathetic to and supportive” of people seeking asylum but it does “not accept that an encampment of tents around our neighbourhood is acceptable or even legal”.

It is seeking a consultation with officials including the local authority and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman to discuss their concerns.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times