Protesters preventing hundreds of refugees being moved into a commercial unit in Santry, north Dublin, have insisted they are “not racists or facists” and are determined to continue blocking the entrance of the facility “for as long as it takes”.
Gardaí were continuing to maintain a low-key presence at the site on the Airways Industrial Estate, with two uniformed officers in a patrol car there on Tuesday. Despite the protest outside, work was continuing in the building to prepare it for international protection applicants to be moved in at some point. Workmen were being permitted to enter and exit the facility on foot but the protesters’ presence prevented them from bringing vehicles on to the property.
Very early on Sunday morning a small number of protesters, some with Tricolours, physically blocked coaches and other vehicles trying to bring migrants into the building. That move caused concern in Government circles, with sources saying the facility was “badly needed” as it could accommodate several hundred people at a time when places are at a premium.
Minister for Justice Simon Harris described as “abhorrent” the actions of the protesters who blocked the vehicles on Sunday, adding they had “no mandate” and did “not own” the Tricolour. A video of the vehicles being blocked has appeared on the National Party website.
However, several people manning the protest line in Santry on Tuesday told The Irish Times they did not know the people who blocked the vehicles on Sunday. While they were “glad” the vehicles had been blocked, they said they themselves were not present at the time. While they had maintained an almost uninterrupted presence there for about three weeks, their protest was not covered by the media until the National Party published its video of the vehicles being blocked at the weekend.
“We have nothing got to to do with the National Party, nothing whatsoever,” said one protester. “We can’t stop people from coming here, but we have no affiliation.”
Another woman on the protest said while people from the National Party had “dropped in now and again” they were not welcome. “We just tell them to go home, that we’re not interested. This is our concern, it’s not their concern. We’re not an organisation, we’re just residents who live around here.”
The protesters have brought foldaway seats to the site and put a gazebo in place as they block the car park entrance and exit of the large industrial unit, though the road is not being blocked. Some had food from a nearby Mcdonald’s as well as a coffee dispenser and supply of water. While they spoke to The Irish Times, they said they were unhappy at how they had been depicted in the media and did not want their names to be published.
One of the protesters, a man in his late 60s, said: “We’re people who are concerned about our neighbourhood, we’re not facists. There’s 303 undocumented males coming into that factory warehouse. These women [the other protesters] all walk around here in the evenings for their exercise. That’s gone now, they won’t be able to do that.”
Asked why women would no longer be able to walk in the area if international protection applicants were moved in, the man replied: “Come on, use your head man. It wouldn’t be safe for women to walk around here on their own with 300 men coming out of there. That’s worse than Mountjoy [Prison], there’s no windows in that place. There’s five security guards to man this.” When it was put to him that if 300 men were placed in the facility, their mere presence did not mean they would attack people, the protester replied: “They will attack people. We’ve had enough with [migrants being housed in nearby] hotels; they’re sitting in the park over there drinking and littering to beat the band. People are afraid to walk in [Northwood Park] because they [migrants] were getting drunk in it. The park was destroyed.”
Another woman asked if she could “get a guarantee” the men who would be moved into the facility would not attack women. Another woman complained some asylum seekers had “sat there drinking cans” in a child’s playground in the nearby Royal Oak estate. “And if the guards come past, they won’t stop them but my friend was drinking in town, in Temple Bar, and got a fine and got drink taken off them”.
Another woman, a local pensioner, said: “The Irish Government and everyone who works for them will take care of everybody else but their own.”
A man who was part of the group said as Ukrainian children and families “had suffered enough”, the protest group would have “no problem” with them being moved into the Santry unit, indeed that would be “quite fine”. When it was put to him that many of the men applying for international protection in Ireland were also from war-torn countries, he replied: “Well then stand up and fight for your country.” One of the women present agreed and asked why migrant men were here on their own and “where are their families?”
The Irish Times put it to her that families sent an adult male to make the often dangerous and expensive journey to Europe to seek protection, and then the men applied to be reunified with their families once they had secured status. She replied: “Well then why does he get rid of his passport when he lands here? They should go back home. Anyone that comes in here with no passport, because they [deliberately] got rid of it … for me, there’s something being hidden there somewhere. If we went to the airport with no passport … all hell would break lose. Yet these [migrants] can walk in here with no passports, no papers … and they’re in and that’s it.”
The same woman also said the Government was deliberately placing hundreds of international protection applicants into working-class areas. She claimed the person who owned the unit in Santry “lives in Blackrock so why don’t they put these [migrants] over there?”
Source : Irish Times