Northern Ireland

Dublin arson attack: Archbishop says ‘unwarranted fear’ of anti-immigration must be challenged

Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell has said anti-immigrant sentiment must be challenged following an arson attack in the city. PICTURE: JOHN MCELROY (JOHN MCELROY)

THE Archbishop of Dublin has said the “unwarranted fear” of anti-immigration must be challenged after an arson attack in the city.

A former pub in the Ringsend area of Dublin was set on fire in the early hours of Sunday morning over speculation it was going to be used to house asylum seekers.

Although no one was in the building at the time, substantial damage was caused to the property.

Archbishop Dermot Farrell, speaking at the World Day of Peace Mass in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ballyroan, said that dehumanising people to justify attacks must be challenged.

Protesters put up a sign at former pub on Thorncastle Street in the Ringsend area of Dublin, which was was lit ablaze in an arson attack in the early hours of Sunday morning. PICTURE: BRIAN LAWLESS/PA WIRE (Brian Lawless/Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

“Conflicts survive on the caricature of our opponents. We make our sisters and brothers—often people we’ve never encountered—different to ourselves. It is this tendency—and it is in us all—that we must work to address,” he said.

“Here is one of the deepest roots of the fear that can prove so corrosive in our societies, a fear we’ve seen erupt destructively in recent days.

“It is not enough to condemn incidents like yesterday’s fire in Ringsend; we have a responsibility to understand and urgently address the roots of this unwarranted fear, and the harm it unleashes.”

It follows another arson attack in Co Galway last month on a disused hotel in Rosscahill, where 70 asylum seekers were due to stay.

In November, serious rioting attributed to “far-right elements” also broke out in Dublin following a knife attack on a young girl in the area.

Making a witness appeal on the latest incident, a Garda spokesperson said they were aware of “a significant volume of misinformation, disinformation and rumour in relation to the use or proposed use” of the building.

Protests had taken place last month outside the building on Thorncastle Street over suggestions it was going to be used to house asylum seekers.

The Department of Integration has since said there were no plans to use the building for that person, while the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the premises were intended to be used as emergency accommodation for families.