There is little support for the anti-refugee protests being held, Gary Gannon has said.
Protests held against the housing of refugees and asylum seekers have sprung up across the country in recent weeks but the Social Democrats TD said, in his experience, they did not represent the majority view with local communities.
“The numbers are very small and [so is] the support they have within the communities,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“I canvas around East Wall and Dublin Central quite regularly - it very rarely comes up on doors… Everyone agrees the [Direct Provision] centres in and of themselves are not suitable for the people seeking international protection.
“But nobody feels the right course of action is to blame the people in the centres seeking sanctuary here or to stand outside protesting in what can only be described as incredibly intimidating behaviour for the people inside.”
Mr Gannon conceded that some in his constituency have “a genuine sense of fear” about what is happening to their neighbourhood but added that the driving force behind the protests were out of touch.
“Without question, there are groups here who are seeking to exploit, manipulate and spread fear,” he continued.
“They’re the usual people, we’ve seen them involved in every anti-protest for the last 15 years and they’ve never cottoned on - some failed local election candidates who’ve never got any grasp in the constituency.
“And they’re seeing this issue as a way of making themselves relevant again.”
The Government has recently come in for criticism for failing to provide appropriate housing for all the refugees and while Mr Gannon sympathises with that argument, he believes the real villain is Vladimir Putin.
“I think the Government have a job of work to do in terms of providing adequate housing and comfort to people who’ve come here and they’re failing on that,” he said.
“But I do appreciate that the system is being stretched massively by a tactic of Putin - who is weaponising refugees and using this to spread dissent among the peoples of Europe.”
Main image: Split of Gary Gannon and the East Wall protests.