Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy is planning to host a meeting with community groups and schools in Ballymun to come up with a response to anti-refugee protests held in the area at the weekend.
The Green Party councillor, who represents Ballymun-Finglas on Dublin City Council, said she was frustrated that the views of a vocal minority were drowning out those of local groups who welcomed vulnerable refugees to the area.
“We are all coming together to see what is the best response to show the vulnerable coming into the community that we are here for them,” she told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
The mayor said she believed the protests were being “orchestrated” by the same far-right activists who had held similar protests in the East Wall area of the city in December. Locals wanted to highlight the positive things being done in the community but their voices were being drowned out and that was not fair. “We want the vulnerable to know they are welcome.”
Videos circulating on social media showed several dozen protesters gathered outside an accommodation centre on Saturday evening shouting “get them out” and holding banners criticising the Government over its immigration and housing policies.
The scenes in Ballymun at the weekend had been upsetting, Cllr Conroy said. “That is not what this community is about. A lot of the people there are not from Ballymun.”
Ballymun was made up of people “from all over the place”, she added. “We’re going to look at the best response from the community to show the real side of Ballymun – that we are inclusive. We will not let a minority – who are the loudest – ruin the area.”
The mayor, who grew up in Ballymun, said that all the good work that goes on in the area was not highlighted, yet when something goes wrong “there are headlines”. She said she had gone into politics to highlight the positives in the area, the good work that the community was continuing to do.
Other community figures in Ballymun took to social media to criticise the protests including former Dublin GAA star Philly McMahon who described the scenes as “disappointing”.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said he was “very disturbed” by the protests in Ballymun.
“People have a right to protest but in the appropriate place,” he said. “They don’t have the right to intimidate people.”
Ireland has been known as “a welcoming country and rightly so”, he said.
“We know from our own history what it’s like to be people who have had to leave our own shores due to oppression, due to war, due to famine.
“The vast majority of people living in Ireland are people who support the effort to look after our friends from Ukraine and indeed from other countries where people are fleeing persecution.”