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Garda launch probe after officer assaulted at anti-refugee protest in Co Cork

Video footage of the incident has been widely shared on social media by anti-refugee groups.

Members of the public march on Dublin Port following the housing of some 100 migrants at the former ESB office block in East Wall, Dublin© PA

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman

Niall DonaldSunday World

Gardai have launched an investigation after an officer was assaulted at an anti-asylum seeker protest in Co Cork last night.

The garda – who was reportedly in plain clothes – was allegedly attacked at around 6pm at the demonstration in Fermoy.

Video footage of the incident has been widely shared on social media by anti-refugee groups.

A garda spokesman has confirmed an investigation is now underway.

"Gardaí in Fermoy are investigating an assault on a member of An Garda Síochána, that occurred on Oliver Plunket Hill, Fermoy, at approximately 6pm yesterday evening, Thursday 19th January 2023.

“Medical treatment was not required by the Garda.

"No arrests have been made, investigations are ongoing.”

There have been a number of protests in the Cork town in recent weeks after a small group of refugees were house in a local convent building.

However, these demonstrations have been met with counter-protests from locals welcoming the refugees to the area.

There have been increasing tensions in recent months in some local communities over the housing of asylum seekers.

In Dublin, protests have been held in East Wall, Drimnagh and Ballymun outside centres housing refugees.

This week, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said any asylum seeker arriving into Ireland for the next month may have to live on the streets as there is a “very real risk” government will not be able to accommodate them

It will be a number of weeks before government will be able to procure additional accommodation for international protection applicants, Mr O’Gorman said, meaning there will likely be nowhere to house people who arrive before the middle of February.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman

There are currently 88 asylum seekers living in tents in Knockalisheen direct provision centre in Co Clare as temperatures have been plummeting below freezing at night this week, as government has nowhere else to house them.

This is despite a pledge from Mr O’Gorman in 2022 that a return to the use of tented accommodation would not happen.

There are currently 19,000 international protection applicants in Ireland and 54,000 UKrainians fleeing Putin’s war in their homeland.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to secure new accommodation and particularly, over the next few weeks into the middle of February, it’s difficult to get a line of sight over enough accommodation of what we anticipate will be the number of arrivals when we look back to what we have seen in the last number of months.

“There is a very real risk, particularly on the international protection side [asylum seekers not from Ukraine], that we won’t be able to accommodate everybody,” Mr O’Gorman said on RTÉ’s News At One.

Mr O’Gorman said “vulnerable” applicants, such as families with children, will be prioritised and for those who aren’t provided accommodation - government will look to provide “contingencies”.

“We will look to provide them with food vouchers, we will look to take their details so we can contact them again once additional accommodation can be secured,” Mr O’Gorman said.

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