Taoiseach convenes private meeting about Mount Street ‘tented village’

Meeting involving Ministers, gardaí and Dublin City Council agreed on new search for State land to house estimated 200 asylum seekers living in tents in city centre

Taoiseach Simon Harris convened the meeting in Government Buildings on Thursday night. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Taoiseach Simon Harris has held a confidential 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.

Mr Harris convened the meeting in Government Buildings on Thursday night which was also attended by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman.

The main issue discussed was the unauthorised tented village on Mount Street near the office of the International Protection Accommodation Centre. There are more than 200 tents in the streets and laneways surrounding the office, all occupied by male asylum seekers.

There was an earlier attempt to clear the site and 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.

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Sources with knowledge of the meeting said it was convened after representations were made by Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan that the continued existence of the site could not be allowed, on grounds of safety, hygiene and its impact on residents and businesses in the area.

The meeting discussed what alternatives could be explored and it was agreed that the Department of Integration would place a fresh appeal for State-owned sites, where military-style tents could be erected, and where washing and cooking facilities would be made available. It was emphasised that the approach would be consensual. The Cabinet committee on migration and integration will meet next week to further discuss the issues.

Mr O’Callaghan said on Friday he would now ask Dublin City Council to use its powers under the Roads Act to break up the camp.

“As well as being dangerous and unhygienic, the tent encampment is also unlawful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has stood over his comments linking the increase in asylum seekers coming into Ireland from the United Kingdom with the British government’s policy of flying International protection applicants to Rwanda for processing.

Speaking on Friday in Farmleigh House, Mr Martin, who is Minister for Foreign Affairs, said he did not agree with the policy but the British government was entitled to develop its own legislative responses to issues.

Turning to the consequences of the new law, he said: “It’s fairly obvious that a Rwanda policy will mean that if you are a person in a given situation in the UK, well then you don’t want to go to Rwanda.”

The Tánaiste said the root cause of the problem did not lie within Europe but in the fact that there were so many conflicts happening globally at present.

“World leaders have to get to grips with a world that is at war. Conflict is creating the migration crisis, in the Middle East, in Jordan, Lebanon, in the war in Sudan, the war in Ukraine.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times