Monday’s scenes at the protest in Roscrea, Tipperary saw the biggest escalation so far in the State’s response to local opposition against incoming asylum centres, as dozens of Gardai from the public order unit was brought down from Dublin to force the migrants into the selected building.
Protests has started the night before, with anger brewing at the prospect of Roscrea becoming the next site for government plantation:
The result was an unmitigated optics disaster for the government, with a mass brawl erupting between ordinary people from the town and what was effectively a riot squad. At one point a protester was knocked unconscious after a blow to the head by one Garda. Among the crowd were women, children and elderly with at least one clip showing a woman knocked to the ground among the chaos, as panic ensued among the local people. At least one person was been arrested at the scene.
The debacle attracted international attention:
This was the 5th day of protest in Roscrea, with large numbers out on a Monday morning giving the impression that opposition was showing little sign of slowing down.
Footage emerged of the interior of the building to be used in housing the migrants, showing a lavish hotel room with a king size bed, TV, and enormous space, showing the complete farce of our asylum policy that Georgian and Algerian men will likely be housed here while our own Irish-born homeless sleep on the streets.
The move represents an end to any pretence of Irish people wanting this asylum policy, or that the government are working with local people around their concerns. It is hard to say you’re not forcibly planting migrants into small towns if you literally have to beat your way through the villagers with an armed escort to get them into the chosen building to house them.
A rally that evening showed hundreds of people out in protest against the Roscrea centre, showing the move looks set to backfire on the government. Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath spoke to the crowd, saying he was “shocked” to the see the riot squad, that there was no public disorder requiring their presence, and that government wanted to “put on a show”.
As more villages throughout the country resist, the number of International Protection Applicants sleeping on the streets grows. After months of setbacks with their asylum policy, and protests around the country increasing in frequency and showing more signs of success, we again see a desperate and increasingly isolated government in Dublin resorting to heavy handed tactics in the hope that opposition simply disappears, as local politicians side with their constituents.
Leo Varadkar says nobody has a right to oppose who moves into their town. The people of Roscrea think differently.