President Higgins accuses Republic's anti-immigration protesters of 'sowing hate'

President Michael D Higgins has warned against 'sowing hate'
President Michael D Higgins has warned against 'sowing hate'

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has urged people to oppose groups “sowing hate” over the location of refugee centres in the Republic.

He accused those behind a recent upsurge in protests and anti-immigrant sentiment of "whipping people up" and said the same groups had shown little past regard for people's rights.

Far right agitators in the south have been staging a series of protests at facilities earmarked for accommodating refugees, including those fleeing the war in Ukraine. There have also been a number of counter, anti-racist rallies.

President Higgins said: "What is unforgivable and must be opposed — publicly, vocally and unequivocally — are those who are trying to take advantage by sowing hate and building fear.

“We are in a position now where we have elements who are not interested in solving the long-standing problems within communities or the new arrivals.

“You mustn’t give them the opportunity. The best way of not giving them the opportunity is to fill the place with services."

He said the groups involved were heightening tensions in communities under the guise of protecting people's rights.

"These people who are going around whipping people up and so forth, you didn’t see them previously making a case for housing, or for women’s rights, or for equal rights of any kind,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Independent.

Asked if he had considered offering accommodation to refugees at the Aras an Uachtarain, President Higgins said it was a matter for the Office of Public Works (OPW).

"This is where the president lives but the whole thing is run by the Office of Public Works," he said.

"Sabina and I live in the extension to the house here. These rooms are for formal purposes. I’m sure that the OPW was among the bodies that was consulted. But it isn’t my decision.”

His remarks came as a poll by Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks found a majority in the Republic (56 per cent) believe the country has taken in too many refugees.