Arklow Says No, a recently formed group of concerned Arklow residents held the first of a series of peaceful protests this evening, Monday 5th February outside a disused building on Arklow’s Emoclew Road.
The building in question which sits at the entrance to Croghan Industrial Estate was formerly occupied by Eircom. Having been vacant for some years, the building was put on the market in April of last year and listed by local Estate agent Raymond Gaffney and sons. The extensive site which is just under 3 acres consists of multiple units aswell as a large car park and yard.
Is is suspected that the building is being prepared for the arrival of International Protection Accommodation Services clients aka IPAS. With limited information being shared by the authorities and speculation rife, local residents have voiced multiple concerns about who may be placed in the building, how many people will be housed there and how safe the area will be, particularly for the many school children who live in the adjacent housing estates.
The news comes quickly on the heels of confirmation last week of the former Lilliput Creche building in Rathdrum being reassigned as an IPAS centre following the closure of the creche in May last year. At a meeting between local residents and the new owners of the building ‘Arkzone Ltd.’, verbal assurances appear to have been made that only families will be housed there and not single males.
Latest figures issued by the International Protection Office show that there were 13,277 applications for International Protection throughout 2023 whilst there were 1,427 applications made in December alone. The top 5 Nationalities to seek asylum in 2023 were Nigerian, Algerian, Afghan, Somalian and Georgian.
The sentiment of todays protest was one of peace. The primary concerns of the majority of residents present at the protest appear to have been around the lack of information provided. Spokesperson for Arklow says No, Reveonna Brauders was clear in her address to those gathered that the key issue is the placement of large numbers of unvetted males and the subsequent safety of the community.
An obvious lack of Councillors from Arklow MD was noted. However information coming through later in the evening explained the absence as being due to a meeting held specifically to discuss the potential IPAS use of the building at which the towns Councillors were present. Ireland First were the only political representation visible onsite. A new political party who identify themselves as ‘your Centre-Right Nationalist Party’, they took the opportunity of a captive audience to hand out party leaflets after one of their election candidates had addressed the crowd.
Local Councillor Peir Leonard took to social media in what was a combination of acknowledgement of local concern and assurance to the community stating: “I am working with our District Manager and my fellow Councillors to try and obtain the information from the relevant Government Departments.”
“We might not agree on everything all the time but are working together on this.” continued Leonard.
Just as Yin and Yang need each other for balance, a group called ‘Arklow says Yes’ have also formed as recently as last month. Identifying their page as a ‘Community Centre’, they state the reason for the formation of their group is ‘to combat lies and misinformation being spread.’
The Arklow Says No group say they intend to hold daily protests until they receive answers to their queries and concerns with an earlier protest planned for 2pm next Saturday.