Clare community criticised after protests see asylum seekers leave
Protesting the arrival of the asylum seekers, locals blocked access roads to their accommodation using tractors and a silage bale.
Local residents in the town of Inch, County Clare, have faced widespread condemnation for their protestations which saw multiple asylum seekers leave their State-provided accommodation in the town.
A group of 34 male asylum seekers arrived into the area on Monday evening, with accommodation being provided for them at the Magowna House Hotel.
4 #AsylumSeekers leave Magowna House Hotel #Clare on foot as local protest continues- one tells me they’re heading “back to City West”hotel Dublin @TodaywithClaire @RTERadio1 pic.twitter.com/F3yJSwZKAW
— John Cooke (@johncookeradio) May 16, 2023
Reacting to their arrival, protesters blocked access to the site on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to prevent the State from transporting a further cohort of asylum seekers to the hotel.
Gardaí were called to the scene, with a number of the recently-arrived asylum seekers choosing to vacate the premises.
The group had spent the night in three holiday homes situated on the grounds of the disused hotel. However, shortly after their arrival, access roads were blocked by the protesters using farm machinery.
The event is the latest in a spate of unnerving incidents involving asylum seekers in the country, following the news of the destruction of a refugee encampment in Dublin's south inner city last weekend.
Trying to allay fears within the local community, Clare County Council's chief executive Pat Dowling told residents that there was "no evidence... that the local community is in danger or at risk".
Responding to Mr. Dowling's comments, one local resident said "we are entitled to our fears".
Reaction to protests:
Of the multiple asylum seekers who left the Magowna House site, an Algerian man named Sharif told reporters that he was going back to Dublin City centre, stating that living homeless in the capital was "better than here" because of locals "not accepting us".
Many Irish politicians also reacted to the incident on social media, with Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin tweeting "We should all be ashamed of this".
Local residents however responded at their council meeting by claiming that the town's people had received no information on the transfer of asylum seekers into the area prior to their arrival.
"We are being portrayed as the most awful bunch of lunatics for even questioning what is going on", she exclaimed.
Other residents spoke to a similar sentiment, arguing that their issues were not with the asylum seekers themselves, but rather the government and local authorities who had failed to relay any information regarding the group's arrival in advance.
"We are very far from racist. We are a very welcoming community. It is extremely upsetting what is happening. I should be at work today. It is not fair on them (asylum seekers) and it is not fair on us".
Minister of State for Community Development and Integration Joe O'Brien responded to the protests by saying "I just ask people to step down the blockade, I think it is done on the basis of a misunderstanding of what's happened".
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Micheál Martin spoke to the issue of communication failings between government and local communities such as Inch.
"We have to work hard in terms of the communication side of it, in terms of engagement, and in terms of clarifying and dealing with any issues or concerns that people may have".
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