Roderic O’Gorman says recent arson attacks are ‘deeply sinister’

Minister for Justice says to date there has been more than 48 arrests in relation to riots in Dublin last November

Recent arson attacks are “deeply sinister” and designed to intimidate and threaten the normal functioning of government and the State, the Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has said.

He told the Dáil on Tuesday that such attacks were “violent extremism”, and were prompted by a drip-feed of misinformation and disinformation, “with the result that people, homes and communities are being actively put at risk”.

Mr O’Gorman said not only has accommodation earmarked for international protection applicants been burned down, but so too premises for “Irish people who are homeless, and buildings that have no connection with the State whatsoever”.

The Green Party TD said the people carrying out such actions “claim to be patriots – they wave our flags yet they are literally burning down parts of our country which they claim to love”.


“They are putting at risk the communities they claim to be protecting. Violence and the threat of it, the destruction of property and the risk to life, these are people who care nothing about communities in this country. They don’t care about the truth, they only care about advancing a very narrow and dangerous ideology, whatever the cost.”

Mr O’Gorman said the State was facing a serious accommodation crisis for those seeking international protection, with about 1,000 people having not been offered accommodation as of Tuesday. “The situation is steadily becoming more challenging. We are facing into similar shortages in accommodation for women and children. The effects of these arson attacks is to deny or delay accommodation for those who need it, leaving vulnerable people in a more vulnerable position.”

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said to date there had been more than 48 arrests in relation to the riots in Dublin city centre last November. She said the introduction of body-worn cameras was being accelerated through a “separate proof of concept project” involving their deployment this year in Dublin, Waterford and Limerick.

“Gardaí in Dublin city centre will have access to body cameras first, before the summer, and the other locations will follow thereafter,” she said.

The Fine Gael TD also said the general scheme for a new Bill to allow gardaí to utilise biometric identification using facial images had been approved by Government and sent to the Attorney General for drafting and was undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny.

“This new Bill will allow gardaí to use this technology in very limited circumstances to assist them in identifying offenders in respect of serious violent offences,” she said. “These include crimes like murder, rape and child sexual abuse. It will also include the offences of riot and violent disorder. It is a waste of resources to have gardaí manually trawling through thousands of hours of footage after an incident, delaying the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.”

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said removing the only hotel that was in occupation in Drogheda out of the public domain was “a bad and arrogant decision” that showed no empathy or understanding of the commercial and other needs of a community which was playing its part in meeting the needs of new residents.

He said Mr O’Gorman needed to “think again” in relation to the D Hotel in the town, which is due to be converted into an accommodation centre for up to 500 international protection applicants from next month. “As a result of the cack-handed actions of the Minister there is nowhere in Drogheda that people can stay overnight effectively,” the Louth TD said.

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times