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East Wall protestors say blocking Port Tunnel is ‘just a taste of what's to come’

The group caused mayhem on Monday evening as they brought traffic to a standstill on the East Wall Road before blocking the Port Tunnel and causing huge delays during rush hour.

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 which is being used as an emergency accommodation for refugees. PA© PA

A crowd of people gathered outside the former ESB offices on East Wall Road . Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

East Wall protestors have said blocking the Port Tunnel on Monday was “just a small taste of what’s to come” as tensions rise over an emergency accommodation centre for refugees in the area.

The local residents caused mayhem on Monday evening as they brought traffic to a standstill on the East Wall Road before blocking the Port Tunnel and causing huge delays during rush hour.

East Wall Road was completely closed with diversions in place by gardai, who directed northbound traffic to Sheriff Street while southbound traffic was diverted to Alfie Byrne Road.

A number of protests have been held in East Wall after some 100 migrants were housed in the building.

Protesters and some residents claimed there was not enough consultation with locals ahead of the arrangement.

Local residents as well as right-wing activists have been present at protests over the past week.

In a statement on Tuesday, the East Wall Committee declared the Port Tunnel protest a “resounding success” as it outlined its plans to cause further disruption in the capital.

The group announced that they will continue their protest every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the accommodation centre is shut down.

It said 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.

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman speaking to the media about protests at an Asylum seekers centre in East Wall Road at the Depatment of Health in Dublin. Picture date: Monday November 28, 2022.© PA

“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 protestors for their support, adding that they wish to “keep the protests from political opportunism and sabotage” and asked participants not to bring banners or make speeches at their demonstrations.

A crowd of people gathered outside the former ESB offices on East Wall Road . Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

The group stated that the people of East Wall are a “real community with real people” as it called on the public to "take to the streets”.

“Instead we ask you all to support us in your individual capacities. We are not a platform for point scoring, votes or virtue signalling.

“This is a real community with real people who simple (sic) ask for your support as we face down this government.

“The people of East Wall have heard harrowing stories from all over Ireland of similar situations. We have shown Ireland what’s possible and we call on you, the people of Ireland, to take action countrywide.

“Do not stand on ceremony. Take to the streets. Erin go Bragh, The East Wall Committee.”

Meanwhile, Minister O’Gorman has said the former ESB office block in Dublin will not be closed as emergency accommodation for asylum seekers, with more refugees expected to be moved to the building in the coming weeks.

Speaking ahead of Monday night’s protest, Mr O’Gorman said he and the Government are not in a position to “countenance closing emergency accommodation” for international protection applicants or Ukrainians.

“As I’ve said a number of times, my department is now accommodating 64,000 individuals from Ukraine or other countries who have come here seeking shelter, seeking safety from persecution, from war,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“That’s necessitated us acting quickly, securing emergency accommodation where we can. We’ve secured some in East Wall, we’ve secured it in other places over parts of the country, and we will continue to do so.

“I engaged and met with representatives of residents of East Wall.

“They raised a range of issues with me, some of them in terms of the operation of the specific accommodation there. We looked to act on as quickly as we can, but in principle we need to be able to provide accommodation for those fleeing here.”

The Green Party integration minister said that he plans to bring in additional staff in his department to speak with communities about its plans.

He added: “I think it’s really important that we provide information in terms of the opening of new emergency accommodation, and we need to do that in a timely way.

“I’ll be looking to better resource a unit within my own department in order for us to be able to do that.

“I think there are some groups out there, and we know of them, who will use any opportunity, be it the opening of Direct Provision or emergency accommodation, be it using the Covid crisis to push a particular agenda, and we and all of government and indeed all of society will have to respond to that.”

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