Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says he will ‘pause for now’ on calling protests ‘racist’ but insists refugee centre in East Wall here to stay

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Eoghan Moloney

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said he will refrain from calling some elements of the protests to a refugee centre in East Wall racist but said some of the language used in the debate makes him “profoundly uncomfortable”.

Mr Donohoe will meet residents of East Wall today to address protests in the area to a new influx of migrants to a refugee centre in an old ESB building.

Mr Donohoe said it is still the intention to continue to use the centre and that if it were to cease using the building as a refugee centre, it would just cause the same problems elsewhere.

Some people took to the streets over the weekend after refugees were moved into an old ESB building on East Wall Road.

The minister agreed with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s comments that people don’t have a veto on who lives beside them.

“I think some of the language that is being used by a very small number of people, I am uncomfortable with. I'm going to pause for now, in using that term [racist].

"Because I want to engage with and listen to broader concerns that are being raised and try to respond back to many other issues that I accept are genuine.

“I think this is a charged environment that we're in. It's been made more difficult by a small number of people.

“The East Wall community and many of the communities in the Northeast in a city display their generosity and kindness day after day,” Mr Donohoe said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

He said it must be accepted Ireland is in an “extraordinary situation” at the moment due to the war in Ukraine and that the choice that we face is, “do we leave those who are looking for protection in tents, do we leave them sleeping on chairs or do we try to provide alternative accommodation?”

Asked whether the refugee centre will remain open despite the protests, Mr Donohoe said: “yes, I believe it will”.

“If that centre is shut down, it will create similar issues elsewhere, maybe even within other communities in Dublin.

“What we are going to see happen over time is more of these centres being needed for a period of time. And what we need to do, which I'll play my role in doing, is look at how we can respond back in a sensitive and an appropriate way to genuine matters that we know have been raised while also being aware of the obligations that we have to those who are in vulnerable and difficult situations,” Mr Donohoe said.

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