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Protest to be held at Dublin school over false claims refugees are staying there

One mother said she had heard that some parents had confronted men at the school, who claimed they were cleaners on the school.

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A protest is to be held outside a Dublin school later this evening and tomorrow morning – after it was wrongly claimed that refugees are still being housed in the facility.

The protest is due to take place at Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Drimnagh at 6.30pm this evening and 8.30am tomorrow morning ahead of the children returning to school after Christmas.

However, the school and a local representative have both said that refugees are no longer being housed in the Dublin school – despite claims being made on social media.

A section of the school was, briefly, used over the Christmas break to house a group of refugees but they have moved out a number of days ago.

One mother whose children attend Our Lady of Good Counsel Infant School said said she understood that male refugees who had been staying at the secondary school over Christmas were still there.

“These are all men, we have been told, and they were moved into the school before Christmas.

“But they still there and people are very unhappy about this.

“There is a protest at the school this evening and tomorrow morning because people are worried about the kids going in while the refugees are still there.”

She added that she had heard that some parents had confronted the men who told them they were cleaners.

“This is just unacceptable,” she added. “There is no way that kids should be made go back to school with the refugees still there.”

However, local councillor Daithí Doolan said his understanding is that there were women from Ukraine staying in the school for “a couple nights” over the Christmas break, when the school was closed.

“This was a private arrangement between the board of management and the department,” Cllr Doolan said.

“Those women have now left to go to more secure accommodation.

“They left yesterday and cleaners then went into the school to do a deep clean in preparation for the school opening tomorrow morning as usual to welcome the children back.

“The board of management are meeting today and I am sure they will be communicating to all the parents in the school the facts and assuring them that the school is empty.

“But, as I said, the school, has been empty since yesterday. There were no men staying in the school and they'll be open for business as usual tomorrow and will be welcoming back all the parents and the pupils bright and early.”

Later, Cllr Doolan clarified with the Sunday World that a number of men had been housed, rather than women, for a short time in the school but have now moved on.

A post on the OLM Facebook page states that the “school finished as normal on 21st December for the Christmas break”.

“For some of the Christmas break, a small section of the school building was used as emergency accommodation by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

‘This happened between 23rd December and January 3rd and is now over.”

It adds:” The school will reopen as normal for staff and students tomorrow morning, Thursday, January 5.”

Despite the message posted on Facebook and Cllr Doolan’s comments, Ms O Neill said the protest was still going ahead and that she would be attending as “this cannot happen again”.

Note: Story updated to include a clarification from Cllr Doolan

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