Gardaí are investigating a suspected arson attack on a vacant building in Dublin’s north inner city that was falsely reported as being prepared to house asylum seekers.
Dublin Fire Brigade received 999 calls reporting a fire at Rawlton House, an old vacant building on Sherrard Street, at about 5.30pm on Monday.
A spokesman for Dublin City Council said firefighters arrived on the scene minutes later and entered the building to extinguish the fire.
Eight fire brigade units attended the fire and there were no injuries reported, with fire fighters handing over the scene to gardaí at 8pm, he said. It was the role of gardaí to determine the cause of the fire, the spokesman said.
In a statement, An Garda Síochána said investigations into the cause of the fire were ongoing.
Gary Gannon, Social Democrats TD in Dublin Central, said there had been “misinformation” spread online locally in recent weeks about the building being used to house asylum seekers.
One recent post in a local community Facebook group claimed “200 refugees” were to be put into the building by the weekend.
Another post on Twitter on January 30th claimed the property was being “set up with beds and cubicles to house refugees”.
Mr Gannon said he had written to Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman to outline that he believed the property would not be suitable to house people, if it was being considered for use by the department.
He said he was advised there were no plans to move asylum seekers into the property by the department, or any contract in place between the owner and the department.
A Department of Integration spokeswoman confirmed the building was “not contracted” for use by the department.
The 19th-century building was previously used as a school but had been vacant for a number of years. It is understood some work had been carried out on the building recently, while the owner had unsuccessfully applied for planning permission last year to redevelop the site as apartments.
The building is owned by a company called Cdk Properties Ltd, who applied for planning permission to refurbish the facade and develop apartments at the site.
Dublin City Council decided to refuse planning permission for the redevelopment last June, according to planning records.
On Monday night, glass from several windows could be seen shattered and some of the damage from the fire could be seen from outside.