Press release

Gardai must act on Ross Lake Hotel arson attack, Green Party’s Senator O'Reilly

20th December 2023

The blockading of accommodation intended for asylum seekers or Ukrainians should not be tolerated by An Garda Síochána who must intervene to ensure access, Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly has said. 

The last year has seen an increase in blockades of proposed accommodation centres as well as a number of deeply sinister attacks on some of these properties as was witnessed at the Ross Lake Hotel in Co Galway last weekend. 

While people are fully entitled to make their opinions known about what happens in their community, this cannot involve blocking roads or preventing access to what would soon be someone’s home, Senator O’Reilly said. 

“I am concerned that some members of communities now feel that this a legitimate form of protest when it's clearly not” she said. 

“We wouldn’t dream of blocking access to someone’s home in normal circumstances so I can’t see how this can be tolerated when it comes to asylum seekers.”

Senator O’Reilly said that while she fully appreciated that An Garda Síochána normally tries to de-escalate tense situations, she was concerned that such blockades were becoming standard practice for people demanding a veto over who stays in their community. 

“If people are unhappy about a situation, by all means hold a meeting, or a march or a protest but blocking roads and access routes is not on,” she said. “I feel the Gardaí need to make clear locally that this will no longer be tolerated.”

The Galway senator also said she hoped that An Garda Síochána would begin making progress quickly in their investigation of recent arson attacks on proposed accommodation centres for international protection applicants and Ukrainians seeking temporary protection. 

“As a Galway resident, the prospect of people seeking asylum being housed near me doesn’t cause me any concerns. What does fill me with fear is the idea of buildings being burned in the night by masked men or blockades being set up on roads to stop people travelling where they want.”

"We have seen a number of recent attacks from Rosslare to Donegal, as well as Dublin and Cork. I hope An Garda Síochána will devote all the resources they need to tackling this disturbing trend. These practices are not the hallmark of a successful 21st century democracy.”

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