Northern Ireland

Video: Makeshift asylum seeker encampment removed from Dublin city centre

The operation to take down the tents on Mount Street in the city centre began on Wednesday morning.

Tents housing asylum seekers near to the Office of International Protection, in Dublin
Tents housing asylum seekers near to the Office of International Protection, in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

An operation has been undertaken in Dublin to move hundreds of asylum seekers who had been sleeping in a large encampment of tents in the city centre.

In recent months, migrants have been sleeping rough beside the city’s International Protection Office on Mount Street as the state struggles to source enough accommodation for people seeking asylum.

The operation to move the makeshift camp that began early on Wednesday morning comes amid increasing diplomatic tensions between the UK and the Republic after the Dublin government expressed concern about an upsurge of asylum seekers entering the state via the border.

Council workers, some dressed in white overalls, were involved in clean-up efforts to remove the tents and wash down the camp area in and around Mount Street.

Asylum seekers congregated in groups waiting with their luggage as buses and taxis arrived to take them to another site where basic facilities will be offered.

Mount Street was cordoned off during the operation, with a large number of gardai present. Access was only granted to residents of the street and workers involved in the removal operation. Health personnel also participated in the multi-agency initiative.

A similar operation to remove tents from the area was undertaken in March, but another makeshift encampment soon built up again.

The operation to move the tents began on Wednesday .
The operation to move the tents began on Wednesday . (Cate McCurry/PA)

A Government statement outlined details of Wednesday’s operation: “A joint operation between the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; the Department of Justice; An Garda Siochana; Dublin City Council; the Office of Public Works; and the HSE (Health Service Executive) is under way on Mount Street, Dublin.

“The purpose of the operation is to ensure the safe movement of people seeking international protection from the tents on Mount Street to International Protection Accommodation Service (Ipas)-designated accommodation.

“The Ipas-designated accommodation has toilets and showers; health services; indoor areas where food is provided; facilities to charge phones and personal devices; access to transport to and from Dublin City Centre; and 24-hour onsite security.”

Irish Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said the encampment was “inhumane and unsustainable”.

She said the situation demonstrated a “failure” of Government policy on migrant accommodation.

“The conditions on Mount Street for the 200 men who were forced to sleep here in tents had become inhumane and unsustainable,” she told the PA news agency.

“And I did yesterday in the Dail, and indeed on previous occasions, call on the Taoiseach and the Government to address the situation and to find appropriate safe and secure accommodation for the men who are in the tents.

“I’m glad to see that that has been done. I will be pressing now to ensure that the accommodation is safe and secure and that it’s appropriate, so that we don’t see this sort of build-up of people living in such desperately unsanitary and unhealthy conditions again on Mount Street or indeed anywhere else.”

Noel Wardick, from Dublin City Community Cooperative, an organisation that has been providing support to the asylum seekers sleeping rough, said it was vital that the alternative accommodation was appropriate.

He said that was the key failure of the last removal operation in March.

“The jury is out from the point of view we don’t know where the men are going,” he said.

“And we don’t know the conditions on the site. So we would expect that the state has provided sufficient sanitation, water, hygiene, and blankets, warm accommodation.

“However, that wasn’t the case on the 16th of March when they last dismantled the site in a very shambolic, ham-fisted and chaotic manner.

“So let’s hope all those lessons were learned and the men are in a vastly improved situation.”