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Family gets Garda security advice after home is falsely identified as refugee shelter

Ireland ‘fortunate so far’ not to have seen a fatality arising from arson attacks on accommodation centres, gardaí to tell Oireachtas committee

A family whose home was wrongly rumoured to be intended for use as asylum seeker accommodation was given security advice by gardaí amid concern for their safety, TDs and Senators will be told.

The Oireachtas Committee on Justice is to hear from senior Garda representatives on Tuesday as it examines the recent spate of arson attacks on properties that have either been earmarked as accommodation centres for refugees, or were rumoured to be under consideration for that use.

A Garda opening statement to the committee says: “This country has been fortunate so far that we have not suffered a death or deaths as a result of these arson attacks.”

It adds: “We remain determined to bring the perpetrators of these highly dangerous and violent criminal acts to justice.”


The committee will be told that gardaí have seen “a significant amount of mis[information] and disinformation circulating in relation to properties that are rumoured to become IPAS [International Protection Accommodation Services] centres” and that in most cases, those rumours turn out not to be true.

It adds: “Several properties have been targeted that weren’t planned to be IPAS centres at all.

“We informed local protesters and communities of this, but this did not dissuade some people from continuing their protests. This meant that Garda resources that could have been deployed in preventing and tackling local crime was diverted to patrolling around these locations.”

The Garda statement also says: “Even more concerning, are the incidents of mis[information] and disinformation that have directly caused safety concerns for local people.

“For instance, a leaflet circulated in a local area by a so-called community group that had a photo of a house that it claimed was going to become an IPAS centre.

“This property was actually a private residence with a family living in it. We liaised with the family and provided them with security advice.”

The committee will hear an appeal from the Garda urging people who want clarity on what is happening in their area to talk to their local gardaí, public representatives or civic society representatives “rather than listen to rumour”.

The politicians will be updated on arrests in relation to a number of incidents over the last year.

The committee will also hear from Niamh McDonald, director of the Hope and Courage Collective, an organisation that aims to work with community groups and trade unions, among others, to combat hate campaigns that might arise in communities and workplaces.

She will raise concern about online “hate, lies and misinformation” and tell TDs and Senators: “We want to leave you in no doubt that the severity of what we are seeing leaves us fearful for people’s lives, especially people from marginalised communities such as migrants, people seeking asylum, LGBTQIA+, and the Roma community, to name a few.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times