Dún Laoghaire Sinn Féin representative, Shane O’Brien, has categorically rejected assertions made in the Dáil this week about Ballybrack Sinn Féin.
Minister Jennifer Carroll-MacNeill suggested that Sinn Féin did nothing to defuse the situation locally and has even insinuated that we were part of those protests.
“On behalf of members of Sinn Féin in Ballybrack and across Dún Laoghaire, I absolutely reject the nonsense uttered by Minister Carroll-McNeill during her contribution this week in the Dáil.
“She purposefully misled the Dáil and should be made to come back and correct the record. Language is extremely important relating to these matters, and the fact that a government minister would spread misinformation to the level which she did was shocking.
“Sinn Féin do not have councilors in Killiney-Shankill, but we intend to change that next June.
“Sinn Féin members, myself included, help organised, participated and spoke at numerous events, including a major demonstration in Dún Laoghaire town centre, against the attacks and protests outside the asylum centre in Eblana in Dún Laoghaire and Ridge Hall in Ballybrack.
“In relation to those protesting in Ballybrack, I participated, along with other elected and non-elected community representatives in meetings where we sought to defuse the situation and to calm tensions. Concerns and questions were put to us and we sought to get answers from Minister Roderic O’Gorman to address people’s concerns.
“I knocked door to door to speak to people and attempt to dispel many of the myths and untruths which some organised far-right agitators were spreading throughout Dún Laoghaire.
“Unfortunately, a series of mixed and confusing messages from different government departments, and indeed leaflets distributed by Minister Carroll-MacNeill herself, about the nature of the accommodation destroyed any trust with the protesters.
“Far-right agitators seized on the misinformation as proof that the government could not be trusted on the issue. That effectively killed any chance that matters could be resolved.
“Honesty and openness with the community in the first place may have averted all of this. Sinn Féin was not the one with the information.
“Sinn Féin was not the one with the details of how people were going to be accommodated and get the services they would need, and we will certainly not be Minister Carroll-MacNeill’s – or the government’s – fal- guy for the ham-fisted way that they have handled this very sensitive situation.
“So let me be very clear: We opposed from the outset any protests at asylum centres or proposed asylum centres. We rejected the racism and hate that the far-right agitators have attempted to introduce to these protests.
“We also reject the notion that people can’t have legitimate fears and concerns that need to be addressed, especially when they are being presented with false or misleading information from those in Government. Labelling everybody as far-right, as Fine Gael Minister Carroll McNeill did this week when referring to protests in Ballybrack, helps no one.
“Minister Carroll-MacNeill’s contribution was an attempt to distract from matters that were being discussed in the Dáil this week, an issue to which the majority of people in Ballybrack would be concerned: community safety.
“One of the most common concerns raised with our activists on the doorsteps in Ballybrack and Loughlinstown is community safety, and the ability of people to be able to live free from intimidation and fear in their own communities.
“A proper and adequate community policing service is central to this. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have clearly failed in this regard. So, rather than taking cheap pot-shots at Sinn Féin in Ballybrack, I would urge Minister Carroll MacNeill and her colleagues to do their job or step aside and let myself and Sinn Féin do it properly.”