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Justice Minister Helen McEntee says Ireland will still accept refugees despite unrest

“We made it clear from the outset that where people are fleeing war and persecution that we are here to help them, and I don't think that policy should change,” said Ms McEntee.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee at Government Buildings. Photo: Damien Storan

Justice Minister Helen McEntee. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

David RaleighIndependent.ie

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said an anti-refugee/asylum seeker sentiment has emerged in Ireland as the country tries to accommodate thousands of Ukrainian war refugees as well as international protection applicants in the midst of the housing crisis.

She said that, despite apparent growing unrest over a surge in asylum seekers to Ireland, including some who are sleeping on the streets due to a lack of suitable accommodation, the Government was not planning on closing its borders to those fleeing “war and persecution”.

“We made it clear from the outset that where people are fleeing war and persecution that we are here to help them, and I don't think that policy should change,” said Ms McEntee.

On August 16 last gardaí in Dublin responded to violent incidents at a temporary asylum seeker accommodation centre in Finglas. Officials decided to move the residents for their own safety after they had initially been taken there from CityWest.

A group of people forced their way into the former furniture store and amusements centre, where 45 international projection applicants were brought, filmed them and expressed anger at the use of the premises.

Ukrainian refugees wait for transport at the central train station in Warsaw, Poland earlier this year.

Windows were later smashed from the outside of the building by a person armed with an iron bar.

Several protests were held outside the centre and the asylum applicants were eventually returned to CityWest due to fears for their safety, including concerns the Finglas centre would be subject to an arson attack.

Speaking in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, today, Ms McEntee said: “There is a sentiment there, it is not one that I support and I think the vast majority of Irish people should have that view as well.

“We are dealing with a situation where we have welcomed over 50,000 people seeking accommodation this year so far - this time last year the figure was about 7,500, so you can imagine the pressure that that is putting on our system.”

She said the war in Ukraine could not have been foreseen and the present situation in Ireland “is extremely challenging”.

“We are doing absolutely everything that we can to provide accommodation and support to people where they need it, we are a very welcoming nation, so I think that is probably not something that will change. But I think we need to make sure that we have the right resources and the supports in place to try to address any issues that might arise.”


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