Cillian Sherlock, PA
A Sinn Féin TD has accused the Government of “appalling” lack of engagement with locals about migrant accommodation but said “nobody should have a veto” on who moves into their community.
David Cullinane’s comments come after several recent protests against international protection applicants being moved into accommodation in Co Clare and Dublin.
He said: “The lack of engagement with communities at times has been appalling – and I don’t believe that anybody should have a veto on who moves into a community.
“But there’s a difference between having a veto and consultation and what I would call engagement, which is sharing information and informing local communities and local politicians as to what’s happening.
“The lack of that engagement also creates an unnecessary frustration that wouldn’t be there if the Government was doing its job right.”
Mr Cullinane condemned attacks against migrants and people who are seeking international protection.
He said: “There is absolutely no place for intimidation of people who are coming here seeking international protection.
“I genuinely believe it is fundamentally wrong and it should not be happening.”
Mr Cullinane said it was also wrong to intimidate politicians, gardaí and protesters campaigning for rights of migrants.
But he added: “But that doesn’t excuse the Government, in my view, from mistakes that they’re making.”
Mr Cullinane also accused the Government of failing to deliver modular homes and the repurposing of buildings,
He said: “Nobody – be they Irish or non-national or someone seeking international protection – should be sleeping in tents and there is a moral responsibility on the Government to deal with that.”
Mr Cullinane added: “I would say to anybody who has concerns about the failure of Government, please don’t take it out on vulnerable people who are here because of fleeing war or fleeing for all sorts of reasons and coming for safety and bringing their children, I think that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Asked about the Garda response to the protest, he said there was sense to Commissioner Drew Harris’s approach of not “falling into a trap” of overresponding to the far right but added there was a responsibility to ensure laws were enforced.
Mr Cullinane said: “Nobody wants to have unnecessary confrontation, but where the law is broken the gardaí have to act and act decisively because nobody can break the law and get away with impunity.”
He added that gardaí needed to be “properly resourced”.
Mr Cullinane also called for additional resources for communities that are housing international protection applicants.