Injunction granted over protests outside Royal Irish Academy of Music

Court told regular demonstrations preventing access and have put works at Dublin 2 site on hold

A €16 million redevelopment of the Dublin city centre premises of the Royal Irish Academy of Music has been put on hold by protesters preventing access to and from the site, the High Court has been told. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien.

A €16 million redevelopment of the Dublin city centre premises of the Royal Irish Academy of Music has been put on hold by protesters preventing access to and from the site, the High Court has been told. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien.

 

A €16 million redevelopment of the Dublin city centre premises of the Royal Irish Academy of Music has been put on hold by protesters preventing access to and from the site, the High Court has been told.

The court heard the protesters, said to live near the premises, have put up banners saying ‘Developers Disrespect our Community’ and ‘Support the Residents’.

The protesters’ actions in preventing access to the site by walking slowly in front of the entrance at Westland Row have resulted in the works coming to a standstill, the court heard.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds granted the academy and Purcell Construction a temporary injunction preventing the protesters, or anyone else with knowledge of the order, obstructing the entrance or intimidating those seeking to enter the premises.

Seeking the injunction, on an ex-parte basis, Stephen Walsh said the redevelopment work commenced in May and was called off from time to time to allow talks take place.

The protesters actions had delayed the work and also raised health and safety concerns, particularly on one occasion when protesters stood under the slew of a crane working on the site, he said.

He said their actions had resulted in a build up of dangerous and hazardous materials on site, which normally would be immediately removed. The fact this material cannot be removed presents a danger to workers and the public, counsel said.

His clients had engaged with what were the first wave of protesters, who raised issues over noise and increased traffic arising out of the works, he said.

In early June, an agreement was reached with 18 households located near the site, the court was told. In late June, a second wave of protests commenced and the site entrance was again blocked and it was not known if these people and the first group of protesters are linked, counsel added.

After an initial “ceasefire” when protests were called off to allow discussions to take place, walk slow protests blocking the site recommenced and are ongoing, counsel said.

Attempts at mediation, involving local politicians Cllr Mannix Flynn and Chris Andrews TD, with the protesters were not successful, counsel said. Some of the second wave of protesters also attended at the site with banners alleging the works were some sort of property speculation but such claims “could not be further from the truth”, counsel said.

The redevelopment works, he said, include a new 300-seater recital hall and will see the academy increase the size of its facilities by 50 per cent, allowing it increase the number of students.

The judge said she was satisfied to grant the injunction. While acknowledging the right to peaceful protest, she said she had to be mindful that evidence of a health and safety risk had been put before the court. The matter will return before the court next week.