Housing activists occupy second empty inner city Dublin property

Group takes over house on North Frederick Street after leaving Summerhill properties

A group of protesters who were occupying a house in Dublin's north inner city have vacated the property. A High Court ruling ordered that the protesters had to vacate by 8am on Friday August 17th. Video: Jack Power

 

Housing activists have occupied a second property in Dublin’s north inner city.

On Friday afternoon several campaigners entered 34 North Frederick Street. A “Homes for All” banner was hung from the building, and two individuals, in Leo Varadkar and Guy Fawkes face masks, could be seen on the first-floor balcony.

Earlier, the High Court told campaigners to leave 35 Summerhill Parade, Ballybough, which they had occupied since last Tuesday. An order, sought by PJ O’Donnell – a director of Pat O’Donnell & Co machinery plant supply firm, which sponsors Clare GAA – required the occupants to leave the property by 8am on Friday.

The Summerhill property was owned by the company’s staff pension fund, of which PJ O’Donnell is a trustee. The campaigners complied with the court order and vacated the property.

An agent for the plaintiff and several private security staff gained access to the house shortly after 9am, and later, large steel shutters were placed over the first-floor windows and front door.

On Friday afternoon a group of 50 supporters marched from outside the Summerhill property to North Frederick Street, where a small team of activists had occupied a four-storey Georgian building.

In a statement the activists said the group, which includes activists with Dublin Central Housing Action, Dublin Renters’ Union and student protest group Take Back Trinity, had taken over the second building to “continue to highlight the need for organised action” to protest the housing crisis.

Protesters at 34 North Frederick Street, in the city centre. Photograph: Jack Power
Protesters at 34 North Frederick Street, in the city centre. Photograph: Jack Power

The “outpouring of support” for the initial occupation of a vacant house in Summerhill, “has given us hope for a strong, organised housing movement”, the statement said.

“The Government is not about to change this squalid housing crisis – the people are. Summerhill was only the tip of the iceberg. We’re ready to keep going,” the statement said.

Meeting with Murphy

Representatives of the protesters are scheduled to meet Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on Thursday. The activists secured a commitment for a meeting following a sit-in protest at the Department of Housing offices in the Custom House on Wednesday.

The campaigners are calling for a total ban on evictions, for local authorities to buy vacant houses via compulsory purchase orders, and for all vacant land to be used to build public housing.

The protesters said the North Frederick Street building has been vacant for several years. The last registered owner of the property was Orla McGreal, according to documents from the Registry of Deeds. Previously the property had been in receivership, deed records show.

On the steps of the front entrance, activists passed a sign-up sheet around for supporters to volunteer to take shifts in the building. Inside the building, occupants blocked the view into the ground floor.

One individual inside the property said it was not clear what it had previously been used for, and the old building “hasn’t been modernised very much”, they said. “It was dirty, dusty, but we’ve cleaned it up and it’s habitable,” the occupant said.