The Salvation Army has secured a High Court injunction requiring persons to vacate and cease trespassing at a Dublin City property it wants to convert into accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.
The orders were granted on Wednesday by Ms Justice Siobhán Stack after members of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Workers Union entered Lefroy House on Eden Quay earlier this month and then refused to leave.
The building, on which the Salvation Army 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. The charity had been renovating the property to accommodate refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine and had hoped to open its doors to a first group next month.
However, those plans were put on hold after the building was allegedly broken into and occupied on May 1st last by the Revolutionary Workers Union, whose members the High Court heard are refusing to leave.
The court heard that in social media posts the group, which has renamed the property James Connolly House, claims it intends to use the building to accommodate homeless people.
Lawyers for the Salvation Army (Republic of Ireland) Company last week commenced High Court proceedings against persons unknown, who it is claimed are illegally occupying and trespassing on the premises.
Following submissions by Niall Buckley BL, for the charity, the High Court granted permission to serve notice of the Salvation Army’s proceedings, where it sought an injunction requiring the property to be vacated, on the occupants.
Aware of legal action
When the matter returned before the High Court on Wednesday, Ms Justice Stack said she was satisfied that the injunction should be granted and that the current occupants were aware of the legal action.
Mr Buckley told the court that, based on social media posts, the occupants appeared to be aware of the proceedings brought by his client. There were no persons present in court claiming to be occupants of the building or members of the union when the matter was called.
Ms Justice Stack said that she was satisfied that the plaintiff had made out a strong case that was likely to succeed at a full hearing, and that that any purported rights asserted on social media posts by the occupants to the property could not be established in law.
The judge said that in the circumstances that she was happy to grant the Salvation Army an injunction, to remain in place pending the outcome of the full hearing, requiring the property to be vacated. The injunction also prevents anyone who has knowledge of the orders from trespassing at Lefroy House or from interfering with the property.
Notice of the court’s order is to be posted on the doors of the building; the judge directed.
Previously the court heard that despite Mr Buckley’s client’s efforts to communicate with those in occupation, the plaintiff cannot access the premises nor continue to repair the building so it can be used to house the refugees.
The Salvation Army was given an email address to communicate with the occupiers, but no substantial meetings or talks have taken place. The identities of those involved in the occupation are not known, it is claimed.
Posts on social media stated that the building was seized after being made the subject of a ‘People’s Acquisition Order’ and that it was taken over ‘in the spirit of the 1916 Rising’.
It was also claimed that in one particular post there had been a warning issued against any attempt to remove the occupants.