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Minister insists East Wall refugee accommodation remain open despite protests

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Members of the public march on Dublin Port following the housing of some 100 migrants at the former ESB office block in East Wall, Dublin which is being used as an emergency accommodation for refugees. PA

Members of the public march on Dublin Port following the housing of some 100 migrants at the former ESB office block in East Wall, Dublin which is being used as an emergency accommodation for refugees. PA

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman speaking to the media about protests at an Asylum seekers centre in East Wall Road at the Depatment of Health in Dublin. Picture date: Monday November 28, 2022.

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman speaking to the media about protests at an Asylum seekers centre in East Wall Road at the Depatment of Health in Dublin. Picture date: Monday November 28, 2022.

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Members of the public march on Dublin Port following the housing of some 100 migrants at the former ESB office block in East Wall, Dublin which is being used as an emergency accommodation for refugees. PA

Roderic O’Gorman has said the former ESB office block in Dublin will not be closed as emergency accommodation for refugees.

A number of protests have been held in East Wall after some 100 migrants were housed in the building.

Protesters and some residents claimed there was not enough consultation with locals ahead of the arrangement.

Local residents as well as right-wing activists have been present at protests over the past week.

More refugees are expected to be moved to the building in the coming weeks.

Mr O’Gorman and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe met with residents on Friday. A number of residents asked for the facility to be shut to refugees, however the request was turned down by the ministers.

Another protest is being held on Monday evening in response to the facility being used as emergency accommodation.

Speaking ahead of the protest, Mr O’Gorman said he and the Government are not in a position to “countenance closing emergency accommodation” for international protection applicants or Ukrainians.

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“As I’ve said a number of times, my department is now accommodating 64,000 individuals from Ukraine or other countries who have come here seeking shelter, seeking safety from persecution, from war,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“That’s necessitated us acting quickly, securing emergency accommodation where we can. We’ve secured some in East Wall, we’ve secured it in other places over parts of the country, and we will continue to do so.

“I engaged and met with representatives of residents of East Wall.

“They raised a range of issues with me, some of them in terms of the operation of the specific accommodation there. We looked to act on as quickly as we can, but in principle we need to be able to provide accommodation for those fleeing here.”

The Green Party integration minister said that he plans to bring in additional staff in his department to speak with communities about its plans.

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Roderic O'Gorman

Roderic O'Gorman

Roderic O'Gorman

He added: “I think it’s really important that we provide information in terms of the opening of new emergency accommodation, and we need to do that in a timely way.

“I’ll be looking to better resource a unit within my own department in order for us to be able to do that.

“I think there are some groups out there, and we know of them, who will use any opportunity, be it the opening of Direct Provision or emergency accommodation, be it using the Covid crisis to push a particular agenda, and we and all of government and indeed all of society will have to respond to that.”

Meanwhile, around 200 Ukrainians are being moved from Dublin to Cork to make space for other refugees.

Mr O’Gorman said that while it is “difficult” to move people to different areas, around 50 have taken up pledged accommodation.

“That’s why the use of pledged accommodation is so important,” he added.

“I would renew the call that I made last Thursday in terms with the new unoccupied homes call that ourselves and the Department of Housing has put out there.

“It can provide really meaningful support for Ukrainian families.”

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