Court orders arrest of Grangegorman squat residents
Man jailed after Nama receiver secures High Court ruling on north Dublin properties
A squat on Lower Grangegorman, Dublin, currently occupied by some 20 people. A Nama-appointed receiver has secured High Court orders jailing a man and directing the arrest of all other persons remaining at the properties. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
A Nama-appointed receiver has secured High Court orders jailing a named man and directing the arrest of all other persons remaining in occupation of properties in Grangegorman, Dublin, in breach of court orders.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan today ordered that Stephen Bedford be jailed for 14 days or until such time as he purges his contempt of the judge’s order directing all those living at the properties to leave by May 4th.
The judge said it appeared that some 20 other people were also residing at the properties in breach of the court order and that he was issuing a warrant directing they be arrested by gardaí and brought before the court to explain why they should not be jailed.
An agent for receiver Luke Charleton claims that up to 50 people were seen entering and exiting the properties at Lower Grangegorman and North Brunswick Street in Dublin despite the judge’s order of last March directing the properties be vacated.
That order was stayed to May 4th.
Mr Charleton wants to sell the properties to contribute towards the repayment of a debt of €21.9 million owed by businessman Paschal Conroy.
Orders requiring vacation of the properties were posted at the site and the matter was also extensively posted on social media and subject to several media reports, Graham O’Doherty, a solicitor for the receiver, said.
Counsel said that the receiver had no alternative but to bring this application.
An appeal which was lodged against the court order requiring the properties be vacated was struck out due to non-attendance of the appellants, the court heard.
The appellants said that the matter was struck out before 10.30am last Wednesday, when one aspect of the matter was listed for mention, and told the judge that they intended to seek reinstatement of the appeal.
The court previously heard that, since the group moved into the properties, the occupants had established a garden where they grow food, run an art gallery space, cafe space, and a circus workshop.
The properties have been home for some people for the last two years, and, should the receiver’s application be granted, a number of people will be homeless, the court was also told.
Today, two individuals, Stephen Bedford and Gréum Ná Hearadh, were in court to oppose the receiver’s application.
Mr Bedford asked for more time to deal with the matter and to seek to reinstate the appeal.
Mr Bedford said that there was no evidence of contempt of the court orders. He agreed he was “mostly” aware of the order.
In documents read by Mr Bedford, it was alleged there was no basis for the court order to have been made, that the property had been damaged by the actions of staff of security groups and that occupants of the properties had health and safety concerns.
It was also alleged an “illegal, forced” eviction was attempted prior to the court hearing and that the receiver had refused to negotiate with the “residents”, who wanted an opportunity to put forward a cash proposal to the receiver.
The property was a form of social housing and many of the occupants would be homeless if forced to leave, the court also heard.
In respose to a remark by the judge that Mr Bedford was “insulting” to the court, Mr Bedford said he had been misquoted in a media article as having made comments critical of the court’s handling of the matter.
Mr Bedford said he had been “respectful” in what he said to the court.
Mr Ná Hearadh said he no longer lived in the properties but was representing the interests of the Grangegorman Community Collective and persons unknown.
The judge said he could not do so and any person who wished to be assisted would have to attend court.
The “persons unknown” could come to court and explain why they should not be jailed, the judge said.
Mr Ná hEaradh said the Grangegorman Community Collective intended to appeal the judge’s March order to the Supreme Court.
In his ruling, the judge said the evidence from Mr Bedford himself was he remains on the property and has “absolutely no regard” for the court orders. He was also satisfied there had been adequate service of those orders.
Mr Bedford was “quite insulting” to the court in suggesting the judge had predetermined the matter when he had not, the judge said.
Mr Bedford interjected to say that the judge was referring to a report that had misquoted what Mr Bedford had said concerning the proceedings.
The judge said he believed Mr Bedford did not fully realise the implications of his position and that he had effectively said he would not comply.
There was no need for an order against Mr Ná Hearadh as the court accepted his evidence that he had left the property and had no reason to return, the judge said.