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Drivers warned to avoid East Wall and Port Tunnel today as refugee housing protests continue

Protesters first blocked the Port Tunnel last Monday, saying it was ‘just a small taste of what’s to come’

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Drivers in Dublin have been advised to avoid the area of East Wall and the Port Tunnel this afternoon as protests continue to cause traffic chaos with potential knock-on effects across the city.

The decision to use an old ESB building in East Wall as an emergency accommodation centre for refugees has sparked tensions in the community, with some local residents claiming they were not consulted on the move.

Protesters first blocked the Port Tunnel last Monday, saying it was “just a small taste of what’s to come” and that their disruption will continue every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the accommodation in shut down.

"There is a planned protest in the vicinity of East Wall Road & Dublin Tunnel this afternoon,” the Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) warned drivers on Twitter today.

"Motorists are advised to avoid the area until further notice. There may be additional traffic across the city, due to protest motorists should be mindful of vulnerable road users.”

TII also added that “the HGV cordon will remain in place during the planned protest.”

The East Wall Protest Committee said last week that the government’s lack of cooperation “forced” them to take drastic action and directed any complaints about the disruption to the “culprits”, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The statement read: “Yesterday, November 28th 2022, we successfully blocked the port tunnel entrance into East Wall, backing commuter and commercial traffic up all the way back out to the M50 and beyond.

“This was a resounding success and we would like to extend our gratitude to those who showed up yesterday evening to block the Port.

We would also like to extend our deepest apologies to those who have been affected by delays and backlog. Our actions are regrettable but necessary.

“We offered to work with the government on a solution and they dismissed us. Their refusal to listen to us has forced our hand.

“Our protest will continue every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until further notice or until the Provision centre is closed down. This is just a small taste of what’s to come.

“Those affected by this can raise their concerns directly with those responsible for bringing about this desperate situation. Details for the culprits can be found here,” it read as it listed the Ministers’ contact details.

The East Wall Committee thanked protesters for their support before adding they want to “keep the protests from political opportunism and sabotage” and asked participants not to bring banners or make speeches.

Tensions have continued to rise in the local community since the protests began, with many fearing they have been co-opted by right-wing nationalists.

Local TD Gary Gannon recently told Newstalk Breakfast that the protest “does not represent” the view of all East Wall residents.

"What started out last week as quite a large cohort of people in the North Inner City and East Wall discussing how they weren’t informed, how they didn’t feel consulted, has very quickly descended into what I will only describe now as a far-right rally,” he said.

The Social Democrats TD said he believed a number of right-wing activists had arrived to “hijack” the protest.

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