‘Frustration’ in parish over asylum seeker treatment

‘Frustration’ in parish over asylum seeker treatment St Andrew's Westland Row in Dublin

There is “concern” and “frustration” in the Dublin parish where a tent city of asylum seekers has cropped up due to lack of accommodation, according to the parish priest.

Fr Enda Cunningham, Administrator of Westland Row parish, spoke to The Irish Catholic about the controversial settlement of people seeking international protection on Mount Street, outside the International Protection Office (IPO) in Dublin 2.

“It’s a very complex situation, and it’s a very challenging situation. It is of great concern to us here in the parish. The dominant feeling of most people is of concern, of frustration. It is obviously complex, I think it needs to be addressed primarily at the level of justice, not at the level of charity,” Fr Cunningham said.

This comes as the asylum seekers in tents outside the IPO office on Mount Street were moved by Goverment to a site in Crooksling, South Dublin – some subsequently returning citing terrible conditions – on the weekend of St Patrick’s Day.

Fr Cunningham said: “I commend our political leaders for their efforts to try and attain some measure of justice and to support the efforts of those working for peace in the likes of Gaza or in Ukraine, thousands of miles away, at the same time they have a situation here in their own city, and around the country trying to address what is clearly complex needs.

“There are those seeking international protection, there are those seeking economic opportunities, there those who have been trafficked here, often with a backstory that is just extraordinary and frightening, and there are the needs of the indigenous communities, the question of housing and where is the next generation to find housing that is affordable?”

He added: “These are enormously complex social issues, both national and international. I wouldn’t underestimate the demands on those in positions of leadership and responsibility, I do think the work of charities and our own local communities will, to the extent that they possibility can, seek to try and support those efforts in the work of charity, but charity does not remove the demands of justice.”

Hundreds of asylum seekers were living outside the IPO office with no sanitary facilities, including bathrooms, which led to streets being used as toilets. More than 1,300 asylum seekers were without accommodation in Ireland when this paper went to print.