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Local reps ‘not informed’ about plans for former pub

Public representatives were not informed about plans for an unoccupied building in Dublin which went on fire over the weekend, a local councillor has said.

The fire broke out at the former Shipwright pub in Ringsend in the early hours of Sunday morning and gardaí are treating it as suspected arson.

The building was being upgraded to provide emergency accommodation for homeless families.

Last month, anti-immigration protests were held at the building by people claiming that it was due to be used to house asylum seekers.

Danny Byrne, a Fine Gael Councillor for Dublin South-East Inner City, said local representatives were not informed about plans for the former pub and that “the outcome may have been different if there was clear communication from the beginning”.

The fire was extinguished by crews from Dublin Fire Brigade

“I absolutely condemn the fire,” said Mr Byrne. “This building now cannot be used for anything so it’s a real pity.”

He said that people “were apprehensive about what might happen” after the building was bought by a new owner and a health and safety notice was put on the doors.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Byrne said: “The key words on that notice were ’emergency accommodation’.

“Now I or, as far as I’m aware, other public reps were not informed in advance about any plans for this building.

“At that stage then there were protests and still we weren’t informed.

The unoccupied building suffered extensive damage during the blaze

Mr Byrne said he had sought and did not get information about plans for the building.

“It’s the responsibility of these organisations to inform the local community about what’s going in there,” he said.

“This became a big issue outside of my remit, I think, as a local councillor. It became quite a contentious issue in the area really.

“We’re told now the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive had plans for a homeless hub there.

The former pub as due to be used as emergency accommodation for homeless families

“That should have been clearly outlined from the beginning to the local community, to the local public reps, but it wasn’t.

“I dare say, the outcome may have been different if there was clear communication from the beginning.”

Mr Byrne added that “there was a lot of misinformation and a lot of outside influence”.

“People were saying ‘there’s people coming in from all over and they’re unvetted’ and so on, and there was a lot of fears being stoked up,” he said.

He added that “certain individuals are travelling the country stoking up hate. You’ll see it happened in Galway and Donegal and it happened here”.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said it was “most unfortunate” that local representatives were not notified of the plans.

Speaking on the same programme, she said Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman and his department had “greatly improved their communication with local representatives” and that in this case, “had no plans to use the Shipwright pub”.

“But we didn’t get anything from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive as to their plans,” she added.

Ms Bacik said that if local representatives receive information, they can discuss it with residents, as she had done in Dublin 6 when a previous notification was published.

“We went door to door, we engaged directly with individuals and local residents to ensure that people were informed and that’s the best way to address any concerns or any anxieties that local communities have.”

Ms Bacik said that she condemned “outright the actions of whoever was responsible” for the fire and said that everyone she spoke to yesterday in the area were “very clear with me that the actions of whoever was responsible for the fire, do not in any way represent the views of the local community.”

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