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Garda investigate alleged assault at migrant camp in Ashtown – The Irish Times


Gardaí have opened a criminal investigation into an alleged assault at a migrant camp in Ashtown, Dublin over the weekend.

It follows an incident in which a group of men arrived at the encampment, which comprised about 15 tents on the banks of the Tolka River just before 1pm on Saturday shouting to the migrants to “pack up and get out now”.

The Irish Times had just left the camp having interviewed the residents – most of them EU nationals – about the camp and homelessness, and returned on seeing the group arrive. When asked why they were at the camp, the men – all of whom were Irish – alleged the residents had been involved in an assault locally.

A number of the men who arrived had dogs, including a German shepherd and a pitbull terrier. One wore a black balaclava, while another carried a baseball bat and allegedly used it to assault a young Polish man who has been camping at the site since last year.

The young man’s injuries were treated in the Mater hospital over the weekend.

Speaking to The Irish Times by phone on Tuesday, he said his arm had been X-rayed and “everything is okay”.

In a statement on Tuesday, a Garda spokesman said: “Gardaí are investigating an alleged assault that occurred in the River Road, Ashtown, Dublin 15 on Saturday, January 28th, 2023. No arrests have been made. Investigations are ongoing.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the incident as “very disturbing”. “While I can’t comment on the specifics of the case, I do condemn unreservedly any incident or threat of violence against vulnerable people in our society, particularly those from a migrant background,” he said in the Dáil on Tuesday. “People have the right to protest but they don’t have the right to do it in a way that causes others to fear for their safety or in ways that threaten public order.”

The camp was abandoned by its final resident on Tuesday. The Polish man, who had slept in a makeshift shelter on Monday night, was brought to the city centre by the Streetlink charity where he engaged with homelessness services and received medical attention. He did not want to give his name to The Irish Times, saying it was “dangerous”.

A spokeswomen for Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) said all those who had been at the camp had been offered emergency accommodation. “The Dublin outreach team had been assertively engaging with the individuals at this site, before the weekend. All individuals engaged have been offered emergency accommodation and five of these have accepted.”

Three have been placed together in one centre, which would provide them with “safety in numbers”, said Padraig Drummond, volunteer with Streetlink.

He said the raid on Saturday had not been the first. “There’s been a lot of intimidation over the previous few days, from people coming into the camp, though the Saturday one was the most brutal,” he said. “It is disgraceful, an attack on the most vulnerable people. When you look at the conditions here that they have been living in for so long – it’s absolutely atrocious and to come down and perpetrate this absolutely vicious assault for no reason.”

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