Punches thrown | 

Two men arrested following disturbance outside Wicklow Direct Provision Centre

Deputy John Brady raises concerns about number of refugees staying at former Grand Hotel which has risen from 111 to 255

The Direct Provision Centre at the Grand Hotel.

Myles BuchananWicklow People

Two men were arrested on Thursday following a disturbance outside the Direct Provision Centre in Wicklow town.

A row which broke out in the former Grand Hotel spilled out onto the street in front of members of the public. One bystander filmed the commotion on their mobile phone from their car and the footage has been widely circulated on social media.

Several men can be seen letting of a few punches, before the altercation appeared to quickly end as the melee separated, with one group of men walking away in the direction of Wentworth Place.

Gardaí were alerted to the incident at 11.30 a.m. and quickly arrived at the scene.

The argument is thought to have only involved two to three individuals, witnessed by a gathering of residents from the Direct Provision Centre who didn’t involve themselves in the dispute.

Two males were arrested. One was administered under the Adult Caution Scheme and was released later in the day. The second man arrested is due before the courts where he will face charges under the Public Order Act.

No injuries were sustained in the incident.

Senior Management at Wicklow Garda Station liaise regularly with the Senior Management of the Direct Provision Centre, while Community Engagement Gardaí engage with the residents of the Direct Provision Centre on a regular basis as well.

Deputy John Brady has expressed concern over the increased density of the number of people staying at the Direct Provision Centre in the Grand Hotel. While originally the property was used to accommodate 111 people, it now accommodates 255 people who are predominantly men.

Deputy Brady said: “While I am fully aware that we have an accommodation crisis of the Government’s making as a consequence of their failure to plan for the increased numbers coming into the country, the Government has shown flagrant disregard for the recommendations of the Refugee Council of Ireland to make use of holiday homes and other such premises, by taking the inexcusable decision to increase the numbers in the hotel to 255 majority male residents, which is nearly two and half times the original number of residents, who are housed in what I would term inappropriate cramped conditions.

“The Grand Hotel has been used as a Direct provision centre and has been operating since 2018 without incident.

"Residents in the centre had been exceptionally well integrated into the community where they played roles in the tidy towns and other community organisations.

"Responsibility for the situation at the Grand Hotel, the gross overcrowding of far too many residents in one place in unacceptable conditions lies squarely at the feet of the Government.”

Deputy Brady is also critical over the lack of consultation that took place with the local community and pubic representatives before increasing the number of residents staying at the Direct Provision Centre.

He added: “There is something underhanded and sly about the actions of the government in relation to the changeover status of the Grand Hotel, which originally housed 111 refugees, but now houses 255 residents the predominantly men. It is evidence of how little regard which the Government has for the local community.

“The current situation is unacceptable, and having raised the matter with the Gardaí, and local community representatives from Wicklow town, I have also written to the Minister seeking an immediate meeting to demand action on this matter.”

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