A number of buildings which protesters believed were set to be used to house refugees in Co Dublin have burnt to the ground after being set alight.
A number of empty structure in Brittas, in Co Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland caught fire after demonstrations took place in the area, campaigning against the potential use of the buildings to accomodate refugees.
Following the fires, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he is “very concerned”. Mr Varadkar said investigations are under way into the incident, at Crooksling off the Blessington Road, but added that there is “never any justification for violence, arson or vandalism”.
Seven fire engines including a turntable ladder and emergency tender were sent to the scene.
The Taoiseach said: “I am very concerned to learn about the fire at a former nursing home in Crooksling. In recent weeks there have been disturbing reports of suspected criminal damage at properties around the country.
“There is never any justification for violence, arson or vandalism in our Republic. Garda investigations are underway into the incident in Crooksling.”
Mr Varadkar added that arson is a serious crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
He said: “It is deeply ironic that some of those who try to link migration with crime engage in serious criminal activity themselves. I want to assure people that we have a rules-based system immigration system. Applications for international protection are now being processed in record time.
He continued: “Like much of the world and all of Europe we are dealing with a major increase in the numbers arriving here. Many if not most are fleeing conflict, grinding poverty, climate change and human rights abuses in their home countries.
“We have robust border controls, extra checks at airports and faster processing times. The response from many communities has been incredible.
“We’ve seen homes, schools, clubs and communities open up to help those most in need. The people carrying out crimes are a very small minority who seek to blame others for their own problems. I believe most people empathise with those fleeing terrible circumstances and recognise the benefits that legal migration brings to Ireland.”
The Taoiseach concluded: “The Government will continue to listen to communities, recognising the effort they are making and helping them as they manage an unprecedented situation together.”
A gardai spokesperson said: “A Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) has been appointed, based at Tallaght Garda station, to investigate all the circumstances of the fire.
“The results will guide the Garda investigation.”
In recent months, there has been a series of suspected arson attempts at properties earmarked for housing asylum seekers or refugees, or properties that were rumoured for such use.
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