Press Release – Catherine Connolly TD – 18th December 2023
Catherine Connolly TD strongly condemns suspected arson attacks on accommodation earmarked for asylum seekers, and the accompanying dangerous anti-asylum seeker narrative
Following the suspected arson attack on the Ross Lake House Hotel near Oughterard late on Saturday evening, Deputy Catherine Connolly expressed serious concern over the growing number of suspected arson attacks on premises earmarked for the accommodation of asylum seekers. She said that at least 11 properties across the country intended for the housing of asylum seekers have been subject to suspected arson attacks of this nature since 2018, and it is most worrying that there have been absolutely no prosecutions in this regard.
The fire at the Ross Lake House Hotel is currently under criminal damage investigation by the Gardaí, and clearly we must await the outcome of that investigation. If the fire is found to have been intentional, Deputy Connolly said it would constitute a direct attempt to intimidate people who have fled war and persecution to seek asylum in this country. All perpetrators of incidents of criminal damage must be held to account.
Speaking on the incident on Today with Claire Byrne on Monday, Deputy Connolly highlighted the spread of the anti-asylum seeker narrative, which falsely claims that single adult males pose a threat to communities when all the evidence is to the contrary.
There are parallel conversations that must be had, but which must not be conflated, said Deputy Connolly. More specifically, the Government has, despite its promises, utterly failed to end the inhumane system of direct provision. Government policy had also directly led to the housing crisis. However, these failures cannot be used to justify the spreading of false narratives around asylum seekers and the carrying out of suspected violent attacks on accommodation for asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable people in our society, and any attempts to threaten or intimidate them must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Now, more than ever, is the time for elected representatives to lead, and to challenge the narrative of division and fear. This is all the more necessary given the diversity of Galway’s population, which we pride ourselves on. Indeed, almost 20% of the city’s residents are registered as non-Irish and are an integral part of the fabric of our society.