Homeless support group targeted with abusive calls from anti-immigration groups after camp burnt down

Aftermath of the fire on Dublin's Sandwith Street where a group of asylum seekers had been sleeping rough. Pic: Fergal Phillips

Amy Blaney

A homeless advocacy group, which was helping refugees in Dublin city centre before anti-immigration protesters burned down their encampment, is now being “spammed” with fake calls.

Streetlink Homeless Support was forced to suspend its outreach service over the weekend following heated confrontations between anti-immigrant protesters and gardaí.

A makeshift migrant camp on Sandwith Street was burned down on Friday night following the demonstration, sparking three days of anti-immigration protests in the city.

“Since then it snowballed, we spent the entire weekend engaging with State services on behalf of residents that were turning up at the occupation,” said Pádraig Drummond, CEO of Streetlink Homeless Support.

Since Saturday morning the homeless support group has been receiving spam phone calls with abusive language from protesters.

“It started with one person phoning in,” said Mr Drummond. “We tried to inform him that this is an emergency outreach number you are spamming.

“It was just ‘f**k you’ comments… he kept spamming. I don’t think he realised that he didn’t hide his mobile number.

“I was basically threatened. We support anybody who is rough sleeping and is homeless. We link them in with the services, that’s what we do. There is no discrimination,” he added.

Later on Saturday evening, a second number began spamming the service with similar abusive comments.

When the anti-immigration demonstration broke out on Friday evening, the charity was at the scene removing the refugees and their tents to a safer location due to threats received in the days prior.

Streetlink Homeless Support provides help for those sleeping rough in Dublin. Pic: Niall Carson/PA

“Friday evening we suspended our services. We were supposed to go to Sandwith Street, load the car with their [refugees] belongings and bring it to a new location that housing activists had opened,” said Mr Drummond.

“But we were hemmed in and there was a fear of them [protesters] following the car to the location where we were going.

“There was no service over the weekend at all. Their hearts are broken and they are fleeing persecution from their countries. They are being let down by the State here the same way our own homeless are.

“Then they have groups randomly attacking them. It's horrific for anybody to have a random person sticking a camera in your face and accusing you of all sorts,” Mr Drummond added.

The support group provides services to those sleeping rough and said it is seeing higher numbers of homeless than reported by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

“In the spring count there was only 86 people in the Dublin region, but on the northside of Dublin alone last week we hit 114 in one night,” Mr Drummond said.

“That was the largest number we have hit in a while. We are hitting around 60 and 80 people per night and that is just on the north side of the city… we haven't even got over into the southside yet.”

Streetlink Homeless Support has recently begun using an outreach assistant app to track rough service users in the city and link them in with homeless services for hot meals and essential items.

On This Day In History 17th May