Around 40 tents pitched on Grand Canal in Dublin hours after clearance operation

Latest figures show some 1,923 male asylum seekers awaiting an offer of accommodation

About 40 tents have been pitched along the Grand Canal in Dublin by men left without accommodation following the latest multi-agency operation on Tuesday to clear the banks of the waterway.

Gardaí, staff from Waterways Ireland, the HSE and the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), as well as medics from the Safetynet charity, had been present from early in the morning to clear the site, where more than 100 tents being lived in by asylum seekers had appeared in recent weeks.

The operation came as the latest data from the Department of Integration showed there were 1,923 male asylum seekers “awaiting offer of accommodation” – up from 1,856 last Friday.

Men received emails on Tuesday morning outlining offers of accommodation, including at the former Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, and advising them to take public transport. In all, 89 men received offers of accommodation, with some told the “number 44 bus will bring you to Dundrum or alternatively you can take the Luas Green Line”.

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Nasir (20), from Afghanistan, who had been sleeping in a tent for almost a month, was beaming with happiness as he began to make his way to Dundrum. He had missed the buses during the last early-morning clearance of tents from the canal on May 9th as he had gone to get coffee.

“Yes I am happy for accommodation,” he said. “This is good for me. Irish people is good. Yesterday they send email. I am so happy. A bed is good and a shower. The canal sleeping is not good.”

However, not all the men who have been sheltering in the area were offered accommodation following the tent-clearing operation.

About two dozen men gathered with belongings at the canal on Tuesday afternoon. About 20 more joined them later, some of whom had been away in the morning or had slept elsewhere on Monday night, said volunteer Olivia Headon.

A group of four Afghan men said they had been away from the canal on Monday when IPAS staff visited to take the names of the men in tents. They believed this resulted in them not being offered accommodation on Tuesday.

“We don’t know where we will go. The hostels are very expensive tonight because of the football match,” he said, referring to the Europa League final taking place in the nearby Aviva Stadium on Wednesday. “We don’t have a place to go, to sleep. We don’t have nothing.”

Volunteers were taking the men’s names and advising them to pack their tents before they were removed by a truck with a grabber claw on site. Many of the men, from Afghanistan, Palestine, Eritrea and Nigeria, appeared tired and dejected.

Barriers were erected along the banks, similar to those used in previous clearances at the canal and at the International Protection Office on Mount Street, to stop further tents from being pitched. However, about 40 tents had appeared again by Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Headon welcomed the offers of accommodation made to the 89 men, but she added that “there’s a load left behind again” and a lack of direction to them as to where they should go next.

“People are really tired, exhausted,” she said. “Sleeping on the streets will do that to you anyway, let alone this added trauma of multi-agency operations coming in to sweep up all your belongings and tell you to move away. We are just seeing the cycle repeated, of not offering accommodation, allowing a camp to grow up and an operation costing thousands of euros to clear it when none of this is necessary. It is frustrating.”

In reply to queries, a Government spokeswoman said IPAS continues to work towards ensuring the limited available bed space for international protection applicants is prioritised for those most in need, including those who are found to be sleeping rough.

“A number of beds became available in IPAS-designated accommodation in recent days which resulted in offers of accommodation being issued by email this morning to 89 international protection applicants awaiting accommodation. The offers of accommodation are being made across a number of IPAS-designated accommodation locations,” she said.

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