Taoiseach insists asylum seekers camping by Grand Canal not another Mount Street situation

Simon Harris says multiagency approach needed to deal with accommodation challenges

Taoiseach Simon Harris has insisted that the appearance of almost 80 tents used by asylum seekers along the banks of the Grand Canal near Baggot Street is not another Mount Street encampment.

A week after the authorities removed tents from the streets surrounding the International Protection Accommodation Service (Ipas) office in Mount Street – and offered alternative accommodation to 290 people – some 76 tents were evident on the stretch of canal between Mount Street and Baggot Street on Tuesday. Tents were also erected on ground close to the Salesforce offices near the Docks.

Mr Harris said that the Government would find new accommodation for arriving asylum seekers and would not allow the same situation as Mount Street arise.

“What we saw happen in relation to Mount Street was untruly unacceptable. It was getting very near a public health emergency in terms of the wellbeing of very vulnerable people.”


He continued: “Let me be very clear, what is happening in other parts of the city isn’t [comparable]. What happened in Mount Street was it was allowed to go on for weeks and weeks, months.

“That would not be the situation in relation to the Grand Canal. From time to time, situations will emerge because it’s a very difficult and challenging accommodation situation. But we won’t stand for a situation [like] Mount Street.”

Mr Harris was speaking outside Government Buildings.

He said that a multiagency response was required “where we don’t have some sort of national game to ‘pass the parcel’ when responding to a very significant humanitarian situation.

“It wasn’t enough in my view that there was a silo, that it was somebody else’s responsibility.”

He said he was confident that progress would be made in finding accommodation for those currently camping. He said the conversation about migration needed to be larger than that around accommodation supply.

Faced with the prospect of more than 20,000 applicants for international protection in 2024, he said the Government needed to look at the issue from all perspectives: processing time; deportations; giving people a quicker answer. . “It has to be that balanced firm approach.”

The Cabinet approved the Taoiseach’s own memo for a Dublin taskforce. The initiative is a response to the Dublin riots last November and aims to rejuvenate the city centre, improve the public realm, ensure the city centre is a safe environment and endeavour to make it a “more desirable place to live”.

The Cabinet also heard that the annual report of An Comisinéir Teanga disclosed he dealt with 634 complaints in 2023 in relation to an absence of, or poor, public services through the medium of Irish. A substantial number of complaints related to a síneadh fada used incorrectly in a person’s name or surname.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times