Housing Minister condemns 'reprehensible' anti-refugee protests

Housing Minister condemns 'reprehensible' anti-refugee protests

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien speaking in Dublin City centre Picture: Damien Storan.

The Housing Minister has condemned the anti-immigration protests and attacks that have taken place in recent weeks, describing them as "reprehensible".

Darragh O'Brien said that while people had the right to protest and their views, they did not have a right to "intimidate and bully people."

His comments come in the wake of two alleged anti-refugee assaults which have taken place in Dublin in the last week.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr O'Brien said: "First and foremost, what I saw in Finglas and what I've seen across the country with some of the protests has to be condemned outright.

“People have a right to protest and have their view, even if I don’t share their view.

They don’t have a right to intimidate people. They don’t have a right to bully people. Some of the activity we have seen is reprehensible.

Mr O'Brien said he thinks that the "far-right" have "hitched their wagon" to the situation, adding that he believes the issue has been "hijacked".

Recognising there were "genuine" people with concerns in the groupings, Mr O'Brien said: "What I would say to people is that, regardless of one’s view on this, we have kids and we have families fleeing awful situations.

“Those who are protesting need to have a think again about what they are doing. If they want to protest, protest outside the Dáil.

That is the place where most people do it — your message can be heard and it will be respected if it is done respectfully.

"We don’t have to agree with it and we are going to continue what we need to do as a country, which is to help those that need our help.”

Rejecting claims that the Government had "lost control" of the housing and asylum situation, Mr O'Brien pointed to Ireland taking in over 70,000 Ukrainian nationals in the 12 months since the war began.

He noted this number could rise further if a spring offensive is launched by Russia or Ukraine in the next few weeks.

While saying that challenges remain for the Government to house everyone, Mr O'Brien pointed to the further ramping up of refurbished buildings through local authorities — which he said would continue "at pace."

"We're working hard to deliver the additional properties we need."

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