'Frustrating' | 

Minister tells protestors against asylum seekers ‘what you’re calling for won’t happen’

‘The system does work in that regard so don’t point it at people that aren’t to blame for the issues you’re facing’

Minister of State Joe O'Brien TD

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Protests against asylum seekers “won’t work” and will not change Government policy, says Junior Minister Joe O’Brien.

He warned the protesters that “what you’re calling for won’t happen” while speaking on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder yesterday.

Justice Minister Simon Harris has already said there is a “small but sinister element” involved in the protests against housing refugees across the country.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said gardaí are “gathering information” on individuals whose motives “could be described as far right.”

Minister O’Brien echoed this, telling Newstalk listeners that gardaí are “monitoring people who are trying to mobilise and spread hate and spread racism”.

He acknowledged that people were attending the protests “for a whole variety of reasons” but that regardless, their actions “won’t work.”

“It is tricky to give them all one message except to say that what you did won’t work and what you’re calling for won’t happen.

"Some of you will have legitimate gripes; you may be legitimately angry about other things that have nothing to do with the people living in the buildings that you are protesting outside but there are better and more productive ways to bring your dissatisfaction through the political system as well.

“It can be very frustrating,” he added.

"A lot of the issues people face have been ingrained for a long time but it does work. The system does work in that regard so don’t point it at people that aren’t to blame for the issues you’re facing.”

The Minister said “there is no doubt” that some of the people attending the protests are racist.

“You only need to see what they say.”

Protesters have been gathering outside hotels and other locations accommodating asylum seekers in Ballymun, Fermoy and other spots across the country.

A refugee fleeing homophobic persecution in his home country has described the feeling of intimidation felt by asylum seekers staying in a Travelodge hotel in Ballymun.

He told Independent.ie that “aggressive” protesters are confining people to their rooms due to threats.

“They came here at night and they tried to get into the hotel and they tried to break the door,” he said, adding that the group left when security staff intervened.

He said during the protests the refugee children are taken upstairs and attempts are made to distract them.

“All the mothers keep the children upstairs in their rooms, they don’t go downstairs, but they can see everything through the window and they are afraid,” he said.

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