‘Most people are supportive’: Clondalkin prepares for new asylum centre as protest is held

Dolcain House, a former office building close to the M50 motorway, will have capacity to house 386 asylum seekers

A small group of protesters gathered in a south Dublin suburb on Thursday night in the latest of a string of demonstrations against new emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

Dolcain House, a former office building in Clondalkin situated close to the M50 motorway, will have capacity to house 386 asylum seekers. It is one of three new temporary accommodation centres due to open in Dublin, the other two being in Santry and Dun Laoghaire.

Protesters, some of whom said they lived in surrounding housing estates, congregated at an adjacent roundabout citing concerns over substandard accommodation, personal safety and an unwillingness to see any more migrants settled in the area.

“Basically we want our borders closed. We are flooded as it is,” said one woman named Cleona who stopped to discuss the issue.


She expressed her frustration at media portrayals of community opposition, insisting many had genuine concerns for their safety while also arguing the office building was unsuitable for habitation.

An information circular distributed to local representatives said residents would be accommodated in 60 rooms across three blocks, including a recreation area.

Given the “scarcity of alternative accommodation”, it said it was not possible to say how long the international protection applicants might stay. A 20-month contract has been signed for the premises which was due to become available from May 11th.

Protester Ronan Duffy, who lives close to the site, held up a small sign with the number 386 to passing cars. Some drivers appeared to honk their horns in support.

Mr Duffy said concerns over a lack of “vetting” were common, and he noted there were a number of other refugee centres in a small surrounding radius.

The property, owned by Randelswood Holdings, will be operated with staff, a manager and security on site at all times, according to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth circular.

Some of those opposed to the site had previously flagged fire safety issues. The Department said it has engaged in a process of remediation works to ensure appropriate fire certification can by issued, with final checks now under way.

While there was no counter-demonstration on Thursday against the demonstration of between 20 and 30 people, others insist most of those living in the Clondalkin village area support the asylum seekers.

One resident, who gave her name as Sinéad, said it was wrong to assume international protection applicants should be viewed as a threat.

“It’s far better to approach [the issue] with kindness and empathy,” she said. “Most people are supportive definitely. I think there is concern but I think it’s born out of a lack of knowledge of the system.”

Local Social Democrats councillor Eoin Ó Broin, part of the politically broad Clondalkin For All group said Ireland now found itself in an unprecedented situation.

“We have to do what we can to accommodate them,” he said. “The asylum seekers that are here get involved in the tidy towns, the park runs or work in allotments; they’re really trying to get involved.”

Elsewhere, the Airways industrial estate in Santry is due to accommodate 300 asylum seekers, while the former Senior College Dún Laoghaire building on Eblana Avenue is due to take another cohort once remedial building works are completed.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times