Lack of information about the housing of asylum seekers is fuelling the far-right, a TD has claimed.
Earlier this week, protestors in Cathal Crowe’s Clare constituency blockaded a number of holiday homes where international protection applicants are being housed.
Those involved claim they are not anti-immigrant but are concerned by the lack of information from the Department for Integration and feel the housing is unsuitable.
The Fianna Fáil TD feels there needs to be more local engagement from officials.
“I first heard of this on the rumour mill two or three weeks ago from local residents who said, ‘A lot of work’s going on and we’ve been chatting with workmen and we heard this is happening,’” he said.
Afterwards he put down a parliamentary question and received what he described as a “bland” answer that told him “absolutely nothing”.
It was only on Wednesday that an email from the Department of Integration pinged into his inbox and he was able to update his constituents.
“I spoke with Department officials some weeks ago and said, ‘You’ve got to improve communications,’” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“At least when there’s information some people will like the information, some will not but informed opinions can be made.
“With a lack of information you get this chasm, this void of accuracy and it annoys people at best and at worst - like we had the other evening - far-right activists coming from Dublin.
“Not local - and I want to stress that; the local people have been very solid, very clear and very fair.
“But we’ve had far-right activists coming down [and asking], ‘How can I help you? Can I organise anything for you?’
“That’s not what we want and I took to Twitter last night telling them to, ‘Clear off.’”
Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said the State has a “duty in terms of communication” and rejected the idea that international protection applicants are a “threat to society or our communities”.
In a statement to Newstalk, the Department of Integration said:
"The State has a legal and moral obligation to assess the claims of those who seek refuge, and in that time to provide accommodation and supports.
"Combined with the simultaneous arrival of over 70,000 people displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the largest displacement of people in Europe since the Second World War – the pressures on the State to respond to the challenge are immense. 55,000 of those are in State-provided accommodation.
"Intensive efforts are undertaken daily by staff in DCEDIY and the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) to source emergency accommodation.
"While the emergency nature of the response required means that advance communications are not as comprehensive or as early as we would like, before the opening of any facility the Department engages with local representatives to provide information as soon as possible following the agreement of terms with contractors."
Main image: Cathal Crowe