More than 30 complaints made over Ringsend site that was later burned down

Shipwright pub was set on fire on New Year’s Eve over false rumours it was to be used to house asylum seekers

Dublin City Council received more than 30 complaints from local residents in Ringsend in December after it emerged that a building in the area was earmarked for emergency accommodation.

The building was later set on fire after false rumours spread that it was to be used to house asylum seekers.

Documents released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show that the local council received 33 complaints in a seven-day period, between December 22nd and 29th, about the use of the building as emergency accommodation.

Some local residents complained about “undocumented” and “unvetted” people being accommodated in the building, particularly single males, while others objected to it being used as emergency accommodation of any type, whether for homeless people or refugees.


Several local residents stated that the Shipwright pub “wasn’t suitable for families”.

One resident queried the type of supports the family emergency accommodation would have, what its capacity would be and what the visitors policy would be like.

The fire broke out in the early hours of New Year’s Eve at the building in Ringsend and took six fire tenders several hours to bring under control. Gardaí said the fire was the work of arsonists.

Three people were arrested on Thursday as part of the investigation into the incident and later released without charge. Gardaí said they were preparing files for the Director of Public Prosecutions on two of the individuals – a man aged in his 30s and a man in his 50s.

Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) director Mary Hayes defended the service in January after local politicians said they were not told of plans to create homeless accommodation at the pub.

Ms Hayes said she had not issued any “formal” notice to councillors about the use of the building for homeless accommodation as it would not be “normal” practice to do so, and it could “stigmatise” people.

Documents show that a “local liaison group” contacted Ms Hayes on December 29th requesting a meeting about the use of the building.

“Please can you meet with our local liaison group to discuss future plans for the site. We are hoping as a small liaison group representing our community we can put people’s fears at ease and get answers to our many questions,” the email said.

The group were offered a phone call to discuss the matter, rather than an in-person meeting, due to the Christmas holidays.

In response, the local group said: “We ideally need a sit-down meeting with yourself as the liaison group has many questions, hopefully you can shed some light on . . . it would be ideal if we could meet on your return.”

The row about the building escalated in early January after several politicians and local representatives called for a better communications strategy from the DRHE and a formal notification process. It is understood the DHRE and the Department of Integration told public representatives who contacted them in mid-December that the site was not intended to be used for asylum seekers.

Documents show Ms Hayes confirmed to Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews on December 18th that the building was contracted for use for “homeless families”.

“Initially, we were looking for emergency accommodation for single men but realised the location suited family accommodation. We have a dedicated complaints email and you can give this out to anyone who has concerns and we will follow up,” Ms Hayes said in the email.

Before the fire, it was anticipated the Shipwright pub in Ringsend would be available to accommodate homeless families in the first quarter of 2024.

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Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times