Roderic O’Gorman appears to be in ‘no-win’ situation over asylum seeker accommodation

Minister is adamant it is ‘absolutely not’ the case the asylum seekers were moved due to St Patrick’s festivities

The decision by Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman to move 150 asylum seekers from a makeshift camp outside the International Protection Office the day before St Patrick’s Day has prompted controversy because of the timing. Dublin Communities Against Racism suggested it was done “to present a nice picture of the city for tourists”, while Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan accused the Government of attempting to move homeless asylum seekers “out of the public eye”.

Former justice minister Charlie Flanagan, whose party Fine Gael is in coalition with Mr O’Gorman’s Greens, said there are “serious question marks” over the decision-making process in the Department of Integration. He told The Irish Times: “The treatment of the group seemed to me to be inhumane”, adding “the debacle was reminiscent of the Soviet Union as in ‘clean up the city before a showcase event’.”

Mr O’Gorman is adamant that it is “absolutely not” the case that the asylum seekers were moved due to St Patrick’s festivities. He said they had been living in “unacceptable conditions” at Mount Street, Dublin, and an alternative location for them – Crooksling, a former HSE facility in the Dublin Mountains – only became available to his department in the last 10 days.

He said it was Saturday before “basic facilities” at the site were ready. Unlike on Mount Street there are showers and toilets at Crooksling, he said, though there has been much criticism that the men are still living in tents.


Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore countered that there have been problems on Mount Street for months. Her scepticism over the timing continued with the Wicklow TD saying “I think it’s incredibly coincidental that these people were moved the day before the St Patrick’s Day parade”.

Government sources insisted St Patrick’s Day was “emphatically not” part of the decision to move the asylum seekers. They said efforts to find somewhere “safe and sanitary” for the refugees at Mount Street had been under way for weeks, and that the facilities at Crooksling were prepared “as quickly as possible”.

Taking Mr O’Gorman at his word, had it later emerged that Crooksling was ready for use on Saturday – but he chose to delay moving the asylum seekers to avoid the perception that it was being done because of St Patrick’s Day – he would rightly be lambasted.

Not for the first time in the asylum seeker accommodation crisis – nor probably the last – the Green Party Minister appears to be in a no-win situation.