'disturbed' | 

Ballymun protest ‘scared’ refugees with chants of ‘send them home, says activist

‘This sense that I get is the fear and confusion as to why this is directed to them. What is it they have done?’

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

The co-founder of the Movement of Ayslum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) has said "chaotic” protests against refugees have sent a sad message: “Ireland says ‘send them home’.”

Crowds of people gathered outside a Ballymun hotel at the weekend to protest the housing of refugees in the area.

Lucky Khambule has now described how scared those refugees were as protestors gathered outside – with one woman even hiding in a local shop as she could not pass.

"What we said to them was they need to stay safe and stay indoors, but it became an issue for people who are not in the hotel by the time the protest starts because how do they get in?” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“They don't know how long that protest is going to be.

"During the protest, because I was there, listening to those chants from the people.

"The way people were scared ... they had to switch off the lights and just peep through the windows to see what was going on.

"This sense that I get is the fear and confusion as to why this is directed to them. What is it they have done? What are the grievances of the people who are protesting?"

The MASI co-founder said it “surprised” him that children as young as 12 or 13 were involved in the protest in Ballymun.

"It just becomes chaotic,” he told listeners.

"Yes, the guards were there, but from my observation, nobody cares about us," he said, explaining that protesters continuously chanted "send them home".

"Send them home, send them home, that is their message, loud and clear, so that message gets heard by people who are seeking protection.

"Ireland says 'send them home'."

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has admitted he was “deeply disturbed” by the protest, with local Fianna Fáil councillor Briege MacOscar describing them as “upsetting.”

"Our hearts are broken looking at what is happening to them,” she told Morning Ireland, saying she hopes to meet with the refugees so “they know we’re all with them.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Green Party councillor Caroline Conroy, has described the protest as “really embarrassing” and said it does not reflect the wider community of Ballymun.

“It's really embarrassing and upsetting. It's not what we are about in Ballymun,” she told RTÉs Today with Claire Byrne.

Former Dublin footballer and Ballymun native Philip McMahon said the anti-refugee protest in the area was “disappointing”.

“Disappointing to see some of the scenes in Ballymun over the last two days.

"From a community that is judged constantly, to now judging asylum seekers,” he said.

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