Maximum traffic disruption is being planned for today (Wednesday) by a group of protesters who claim asylum seekers being housed at a former ESB office block in Dublin’s East Wall are being accommodated as “in-tolerable”.
The East Wall Committee who are into their fourth week of protests over the “inappropriate housing” of 380 men, women and children have called on Amnesty International to carry out inspections.
The protesters have now decided to move their traffic blockades from the Port Tunnel to the iconic Five Lamps in Amiens Street - one of the busiest commuter routes in the city centre.
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The blockade is to take place at 5pm with “maximum disruption planned until the Government houses the asylum seekers in better accommodation and in a humane way, conditions are intolerable” said Nigel Murphy, a spokesperson for the Committee.
“Our protests have nothing to do about not wanting asylum seekers in our area, it's about treating them suitably and giving them accommodation which is suitable. So many of the asylum seekers are well qualified people and have a lot to offer our country. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” he added.
The protesters claim the asylum seekers being housed in the Two Gateway East Wall building are being kept in cold, insecure plastic pods which provide little privacy. The various nationalities being accommodated in the building originate from countries such as Algeria, Somalia, Nigeria, Guatemala and Lebanon.
It is now planned that the blockades will move to various busy locations around the Capital three times a week until the Government improves conditions for asylum seekers not only in Dublin but nationwide.
The Committee is also planning to protest outside the Dáil following the Christmas recess.
Mr Murphy has called on the Minister for Diversity Roderic O’Gorman to allow Amnesty International inspectors to be allowed in to “view the conditions men, women and children are being forced to live in.”
Up to 100 male asylum seekers were bused into the former ESB building at the end of November and that number has now risen to almost 400 people.
Neither councillors, Council management nor local residents were consulted on the housing of the asylum seekers in the building. Ministers O'Gorman and Paschal Donohoe subsequently met with protestors.
Mr Murphy also said there also needs to be 24/7 security to protect “women and children being accommodated there in light of the conditions to give them the dignity, integrity that even Minister O’Gorman says they deserve.
“They have no privacy whatsoever which has been borne out by images provided by asylum seekers. People need to feel free from roaming eyes.”
He also said that gardai should be allowed to enter the building to carry out “random checks”.
Current projections by the Department of Equality said they have to meet their international obligations on housing asylum seekers. The Department has indicated there will be a shortfall of 15,000 beds for asylum seekers this month and it expects that the number of Ukrainians and International Protection applicants arriving is expected to remain at elevated levels.
The Department added that since January of this year there have been more than 12,300 international protection applicants arriving into Ireland. The Department pointed out that in the 10-year-period from 2010 to 2020 there were 3,500 such arrivals which is placing additional pressure on available accommodation.
A Department spokesperson said: “Since the International Protection applicants arrived in the Two Gateway accommodation centre in East Wall, the operator has proactively engaged with the residents. This has resulted in positive outcomes and a large majority of residents are happy with the services and the location.”
The Department explained that there are separate male and female showers. The shower units are private cubicles and are lockable. Furthermore, access control cards given to each resident are gender specific so males cannot access the female bathrooms and this is the same for females.
Showering times are managed and security is present in the corridor outside the showering facility to ensure greater safety. There are security personnel on each floor at all times.
The spokesperson added: “All accommodation is self-contained. The rooms and pods reach a height of 2.5m, therefore it is not possible for residents to overlook into a neighbouring pod or room.
“In addition, families and single males are segregated on separate floors. On the family floors there are a number of fathers residing there with their families in their own rooms. Each room or pod has integrated locks.
“The single males are on a separate floor and cannot access the family floors due to the access control arrangements and there are security personnel present in the corridor to each accommodation block”.
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