Gardaí have forced their way into a Salvation Army building in central Dublin, which was being occupied by a group protesting at the manner properties were being left unoccupied during a housing crisis. The group, the Revolutionary Workers Union, also claimed it was accommodating homeless people in the building.
A team of gardaí staged a planned operation at the building, on Eden Quay, at about 6am on Thursday. While those inside had barricaded some of the doors, gardaí used battering rams to force their way inside.
The Irish Times understands two people were arrested. It was expected they would be brought before the courts in accordance with an order issued by the High Court, which has made rulings relating to the protestors and the occupation of the building in recent weeks.
It appears the two people arrested, both men, were the only people in the building when gardaí arrived. The Garda personnel who entered the building were dressed in tactical uniforms, which are used for added protection for potentially high-risk operations.
The High Court was previously told that as well as protestors in the building, there were also others, including children. Last Thursday morning, when the court-imposed deadline for those occupying Lefroy House passed at 10am, a group gathered outside the building in support of the protestors inside in the event gardaí arrived and tried and clear the premises, which they did not. However, that operation has now taken place, exactly one week after the court-imposed deadline for the protestors to leave.
As Garda management believed a large number of people may be in the building on Thursday morning, a large cellular vehicle – separate cells in a Garda truck - was moved into place in anticipation of a large number of arrests. However, it appears the only people on the premises were the two men arrested.
The Revolutionary Workers Union moved into the Salvation Army - run property on May 1st and its members said they were offering accommodation to the homeless in buildings that were vacant because “people are dying on the streets”. They remained despite the Salvation Army saying it had planned to improve the property so it could be used to accommodate Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s invasion of their country.
Last Wednesday week, Ms Justice Emily Egan of the High Court said she had “no alternative” but to order the attachment of persons continuing to occupy the Salvation Army’s property on Eden Quay in defiance of previous court orders.
Ms Justice Egan placed a stay on the execution of her orders until 10am last Thursday to afford those in the building some time to leave. However, once that deadline passed gardaí could bring the occupiers before the court and they could be imprisoned for contempt of court unless they agreed to stay away from the building. The two people arrested on Thursday were now expected to be brought before Ms Justice Egan.
Last month the Salvation Army secured a High Court injunction requiring persons to vacate and cease trespassing at the Lefroy House property. The building, for which the charity holds a long lease, had been operated as emergency accommodation for minors in crisis for many years until its closure early last year when funding ceased.