Men with dogs, sticks and baseball bat attack Dublin migrant camp

Threats circulated on social media in recent days concerning camp where up to eight men have lived in tents since August

A number of men with dogs, sticks and a baseball bat attacked a migrant camp in Ashtown, north Dublin, on Saturday.

The group of men arrived at about 12.45pm at the encampment, comprised of about 15 tents in a forest area, on the bank of the Tolka river on River Road, near the Ashtown pound.

They shouted, “Get out. Get out” and “Pack up and get out now. Now.” Four had dogs, including a German shepherd and an American pit-bull terrier. One wore a black balaclava, while another carried a baseball bat and allegedly used it to assault a young Croatian* man who has been camping at the site since last year.

When interrupted by The Irish Times and asked why they were attacking the camp, the men – all white, Irish – alleged the residents had been involved in an assault locally.


Between six and eight men – Polish, Croatian, Hungarian, Portuguese, Indian and Scottish – have been living at the camp since August, without incident they say. In recent days, however, video footage of the camp has circulated on social media, with one posting video on Twitter, saying: “It’s like a little village. They say they’re Irish? They’re not f**king Irish.”

A similar video posted on Facebook on Wednesday has comments underneath including: “Come down. My dog ready to go”; “Bottle of petrol and that’s it good luck”, and, “They need to be transported to Dalkey!”.

Gardaí arrived at the camp shortly after the men and dogs left, and spoke to those living there. One, a Croatian* man (20) told The Irish Times he had been hit several times with a baseball bat. Visibly distressed, he said his arm was not broken. “I have strong bones, but the tendons are sore”.

Another man in his 30s, from Portugal, said they would leave the camp and most of their belongings and go to the city centre.

“This is serious. They mean business. We will just have to pack up and go, that’s it and not come back here. I will bring my documents and my bags and that’s all I need. It’s going to get worse if we stay,” he said.

A third man, from Hungary, was angry. Rolling a cigarette, he said he didn’t know how to feel after the attack.

“I came to this country to work. I became homeless because I got f**ked over. This is the last thing we want, to be homeless. We are here in this place seven months, very peaceful. Nobody notice we are here and then somebody puts up something.

“I would really gladly go back to my own country but this country owes me a bit of money. I like Irish people but when they start being racist, I cannot take it. That was scary. I never experienced anything like that, never.”

An Indian man (30), who had spoken to The Irish Times earlier about how he had come to live at the camp, would not speak after the incident. He dismantled his tent in silence and packed up his belongings.

Before the attack the men showed The Irish Times around the camp and explained how they had come to be living here. The Indian man said he had arrived in Ireland in April to work as a cook. His initial job fell through and he couldn’t keep up the €550 a month he was paying to share a room. He became homeless in June and was sleeping rough. Since then, he got work for 25 hours a week serving food in a well-known tech company – a job he has held since.

The Portuguese man has been in Ireland two years, and lost his job in a city centre hotel after telling a “funny joke” to a Brazilian customer who, he says, reported him to his manager.

“I have been in Ireland two years. I was living in Cabra and I couldn’t pay the rent. When I was homeless first I hadn’t a clue how to get help. I was staying in a sleeping bag in Smithfield and then some people gave me information about where to get food.

“Then I met these fellas and we decided to come to this place because we thought it would be more peaceful.”

The men lived here without electricity, toilets, running water or cooking facilities. They had fashioned shelter from tarpaulin sheeting, and one had built a shelter with wooden pallets. Each had a tent to sleep in and stored belongings in several more.

They said gardaí checked on them regularly, while rough-sleeper outreach teams brought food, sleeping bags and advice. They charged phones, washed clothes and showered in city-centre charities, including the Lighthouse, Mendicity Institution and the Capuchin Day Centre.

On Saturday afternoon they abandoned the camp. They did not know where they would sleep and were reluctant to go to hostels. The Hungarian man showed a large scar on his neck he said he had got in a hostel when “someone tried to murder” him.

“I didn’t come to Ireland for this situation,” the Portuguese man said. “I want better and when things get to this, we don’t want things to escalate. Portuguese people are very peaceful. We don’t want to fight with Irish people.”

A Garda spokesman confirmed there had been an “incident on River Road. Gardaí responded quickly and engaged with those present. There was no report of any injuries and no formal complaints made at this time.”

*The nationality of this man was amended based on new information: 02/02/2023

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times