An assault on a camp of homeless migrants in Dublin has ‘the feel and look of a racist attack’, the Taoiseach has told The Pat Kenny Show.
It’s understood a group of men arrived at the camp on the Tolka river in Ashtown accompanied by dogs and carrying sticks and baseball bats.
They were reportedly heard shouting ‘Get out’ and ‘pack up and get out now.’
Some of the residents of the camp have been living there for up to seven months and say they were assaulted during the attack.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the incident was “very disturbing”.
“Obviously, I’ve heard the reports in the media,” he said. “I don’t have the report from the Gardaí yet but I am going to seek one.
“I am always reluctant to comment on something without knowing the full facts but it has the feel and look of, essentially, a racist attack.
“These are people who are foreigners. People who were sleeping rough.”
He said we have to ensure we don’t see a rise in similar attacks in the coming months.
“I think it requires a full investigation by the Gardaí and it is something that I am going to pursue with them,” he said.
Last week saw a rising number of newly arrived asylum seekers forced to sleep on the streets after the Citywest Reception Centre closed to new arrivals.
Mr Varadkar said the Government has acknowledged that we are going to need at least two more reception centres around the country.
He insisted that every country in Europe is dealing with the same problems when it comes to rising asylum seeker numbers.
“You have millions of people who have been forced to leave Ukraine seeking shelter across Europe and across Europe, there has been a three-fold increase in people who are not from Ukraine but are from other parts of the world and looking for international protection.
"Sadly, what you see in large parts of Europe are camps. You know, you have seen the camps in France, you have seen the camps in Greece you have seen the fact in the Netherlands that people have no shelter at all.
"We have had a taste of that in recent weeks in Ireland so there is no model that is perfect across Europe – not when you are dealing with the kind of numbers we are dealing with."
He noted that if Ireland had built a city the size of Waterford to house the refugees and asylum seekers that have arrived since the Ukraine invasion began, it would now be full.
“This is an unprecedented crisis. Europe hasn’t seen anything like this since the second world war and Ireland has not seen anything like this in our history.
“What we are endeavouring to do is the best we can. To provide people with shelter and with heat and light, with healthcare, education and employment in many cases.”
The Taoiseach admitted up to 5,000 people are still living in Direct Provision even though they have been granted refugee status and have a right to live and work here.
He said many simply cannot afford to move out due to the high cost of housing – but warned that some are on decent incomes but are choosing to send money home instead of paying rent.
He warned that attempting to force people out into the world could have the unintended consequence of making more people homeless.