Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is “very concerned” following a blaze at vacant buildings in Brittas in Co Dublin.
Demonstrations have been staged in the area recently by people who believed the buildings at Crooksling off the Blessington Road were to be used to accommodate refugees.
Mr Varadkar said investigations are under way into the incident, but added that there is “never any justification for violence, arson or vandalism”.
Gardai said a formal examination of the building will be carried out on Monday.
The Dublin Fire Brigade said emergency services were called to the vacant buildings which were alight at 7am.
Firefighters were called at 7am to vacant buildings alight at Crooksling off the Blessington Road
7️⃣ Seven fire engines including a turntable ladder and emergency tender were sent to the scene
🛣️ Traffic restrictions on the #N81 due to hose lines
🚒 Operations are continuing pic.twitter.com/4srFwgqocc
— Dublin Fire Brigade (@DubFireBrigade) February 4, 2024
Seven fire engines including a turntable ladder and emergency tender were sent to the scene.
The Taoiseach said: “I am very concerned to learn about the fire at a former nursing home in Crooksling.
“In recent weeks there have been disturbing reports of suspected criminal damage at properties around the country.
“There is never any justification for violence, arson or vandalism in our Republic.
“Garda investigations are underway into the incident in Crooksling.”
Mr Varadkar added that arson is a serious crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
He said: “It is deeply ironic that some of those who try to link migration with crime engage in serious criminal activity themselves.
“I want to assure people that we have a rules-based system immigration system.
“Applications for international protection are now being processed in record time.
“All applicants are registered, fingerprinted, checked against certain databases, and the circumstances surrounding their request for protection are examined thoroughly.
“We aim to treat them with dignity and respect while their applications are considered.”
He continued: “Like much of the world and all of Europe we are dealing with a major increase in the numbers arriving here.
“Many if not most are fleeing conflict, grinding poverty, climate change and human rights abuses in their home countries.
“We have robust border controls, extra checks at airports and faster processing times.
“The response from many communities has been incredible.
“We’ve seen homes, schools, clubs and communities open up to help those most in need.
“The people carrying out crimes are a very small minority who seek to blame others for their own problems.
“I believe most people empathise with those fleeing terrible circumstances and recognise the benefits that legal migration brings to Ireland.”
The Taoiseach concluded: “The Government will continue to listen to communities, recognising the effort they are making and helping them as they manage an unprecedented situation together.”
A gardai spokesperson said: “A Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) has been appointed, based at Tallaght Garda station, to investigate all the circumstances of the fire.
“Tomorrow morning a formal examination of the building will be conducted by an expert engineer to assess its safety.
“Once feasible, a technical examination will be carried out by the DMR South Scenes of Crime unit, assisted by the Garda Technical Bureau.
“The results will guide the Garda investigation.”
In recent months, there has been a series of suspected arson attempts at properties earmarked for housing asylum seekers or refugees, or properties that were rumoured for such use.