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Volunteers help asylum seekers during removal from Canal

Volunteer Olivia Headon was alerted before 6am by some of the men sleeping close to the canal who said new barriers were being put in place.

Volunteers came down to help the men pack up their things.

Roughly 100 tents used by asylum seekers are being cleared from Dublin’s Grand Canal, marking the third removal operation at the canal this month.

“It was important for them to be able to have the time to pack their belongings to make sure they did not lose any documents.

“Although there was definitely one man who did lose some documents, but the majority of people seem to be able to salvage what they needed and are very happy to be offered accommodation today,” Ms Headon said.

In total,109 individuals have been offered accommodation.

She said most of the men are expected to be taken to CityWest.

“They really want to be in accommodation with sanitation, running water, food, health, safety being a big one and actually in a bed and not on the ground, not on the floor in a sleeping bag.”

However, she said the Grand Canal was not the only place people were sleeping after becoming homeless whilst seeking international protection.

“They are in other cities, in bus stations and train stations. They are in hostels during the week and on the streets on the weekend. They are on couches. And those offers of couches are not going to last forever.

“So, while there are accommodation shortages, the Government needs to come together in this multi-agency way, not to clear sites and prevent people from finding a safe place to come together, but to provide them with a safe alternative.”

She said it is still unclear where anyone else left without accommodation, including new arrivals, should go.

“So, we know that more people are going to reach out to us, and they are going to be afraid.”

She said there was also the possibility that homeless charities would be told to stop giving out tents as had been signalled by some members of the Government.

She added: “The solution is using the land that the Government has available, using the resources that the Government has available to fulfil the obligations that it has to vulnerable people and not leaving them in an unsafe, precarious situation which is either on the street or in non-governmental accommodation that is not going to last forever…

“This is not OK, it is not good enough. This is Ireland. We are supposed to be a safe haven for vulnerable people. That is not what is happening.”

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