Asylum seekers were not moved due to St Patrick’s Day, Varadkar says

Asylum Seekers Were Not Moved Due To St Patrick’s Day, Varadkar Says
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the new location was chosen because it was State-owned and available. Photo: PA Images
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The Taoiseach has said the reason dozens of asylum seekers were moved from a makeshift camp in Dublin city to a separate location was for health and safety reasons.

Concerns have been raised after men who had been camping on Mount Street were moved by authorities to tents at a location in south-west Dublin on Saturday morning.


Men who had been camping near the International Protection Office were taken by bus to a site at Crooksling.

Leo Varadkar
Mr Varadkar is in the US ahead of St Patrick’s Day (Niall Carson/PA)

Some suggested that the abrupt movement of an estimated 100 asylum seekers from the location was due to the tents being an “eyesore” for tourists visiting the capital for the St Patrick’s Day weekend.


Speaking from Washington DC, Leo Varadkar denied that the decision was made to avoid “an embarrassment for the Government” close to St Patrick’s Day.

“No, the reason why they were moved was essentially that there wasn’t any sanitary facilities, there were no showers, no toilets on Mount Street,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“So the alternative in Crooksling had that, and so it was to move them really for health and safety reasons from a place where there was no facilities to somewhere where there is.”

He said of the people who wanted to return to Mount Street: “To me, being provided with accommodation where there’s running water, where there’s showers, where there’s toilets, is better than living on the streets.”



The Taoiseach said the new location was chosen because it offered “much better conditions” than on Mount Street.


“The reason why it was chosen is because it’s State-owned and it was available, and there was running water, showers, toilets, so much better conditions than people would have experienced on Mount Street,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Unfortunately, there are protests and there’s risks everywhere – you’ll recall what happened on Sandwith Street.

“So, unfortunately, no matter where people are, there’s going to be certain risks. But obviously, security measures are put in place as well.”

Many of the dozens of tents that had been pitched at Mount Street had been slashed before they were cleared by council workers.


Volunteers who had supplied the men with tents worked to salvage some equipment.

Dublin asylum seekers camp cleared
Mr Varadkar cited health and safety reasons (Brian Lawless/PA)

Community volunteer Lena Seale told the PA news agency: “It’s pretty obvious to us that the reason they are here is because Paddy’s Day is coming, we’re going to be flooded with tourists and I think they see these men as eyesores, not as human beings, and they’re not serious about providing a real solution.”

Volunteers at the site suggested that some asylum seekers at the new location they had been brought to by International Protection Accommodation Services staff were given tents and limited facilities.

It was claimed that some of them were walking back to the site at Mount Street where their tents had since been removed.

Shoes, cleaning supplies, blankets and other personal belongings were seen in the area after the tents’ removal.

Dublin asylum seekers camp cleared
Volunteers contradicted Mr Varadkar’s claims, claiming it was done ahead of St Patrick’s Day celebrations (Grainne Ni Aodha/PA)

Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who helped fold up some of the tents at the site, said there was a sense that the Government was “playing a game”.

He said: “The sense of disappointment, (after we thought) we were getting proper accommodation is really, really palpable.

“We feel that the Government are playing a game, this is all for show. I didn’t want to believe that. I really wanted to believe that the advocacy had actually worked, and the Government were taking this seriously.”

“What has happened is they have just moved the situation from one place to another.”

He said although there is less risk of infection at the new site, that at Mount Street the men had access to local facilities and mosques.

Mr Ó Ríordáin said he did not want to be cynical, but the site was “in the eyeline of tourists”.

Dublin asylum seekers camp cleared
Dublin City Council said the tents were causing an obstruction (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said: “Why would they be here for a year and then moved on St Patrick’s weekend?

“We wanted this to be moved, we wanted people to be given more dignity, but if the alternative is tents on the side of a mountain, it’s hard to know if we’re just being played.”

In a statement, Dublin City Council said: “Following the relocation of the International Protection Applicants by IPAS, contractors working on behalf of Dublin City Council removed the waste and tents that were left behind as they were causing an obstruction on the public footpath.”

The Department of Integration said in a statement: “This morning, the department has offered alternative shelter to all International Protection Applicants camped at Mount Street.

“All those who accepted the offer will be provided tented accommodation at a site in Crooksling, where food, personal toiletries, toilet and shower facilities are also available.

“The department will engage with HSE and healthcare providers in order to ensure the wellbeing of those on site.

“The department has engaged closely with Dublin City Council regarding the situation at Mount Street, and DCC has confirmed that the site at Mount Street will be cleaned following the removal of the tents currently there.

“More broadly, the situation in relation to accommodation remains very challenging. The supply of available accommodation is severely diminished.

“What accommodation can be opened at this point is primarily being utilised for families in order to avoid women and children becoming homeless. Since January, approximately 2,400 beds have been brought into use for those seeking accommodation.”

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