Summerhill house occupiers leave property following deadline

Agent for owner breaks lock on front door as protesters plan noon demonstration

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

 

Protestors who had been occupying a vacant property in Ballybough, north Dublin since last week have left the property following an order by the High Court to leave by 8am this morning.

A man who identified himself as an agent for the plaintiff arrived at the premises at Summerhill Parade shortly after 9am and was accompanied by private security. After knocking on the door and asking if anyone was present inside the property, no one answered.

Following that a drill was used to break open the lock on the front door and enter the property.

The man confirmed “the properties we have inspected are not occupied.”

No activists came to the door or windows of the property when the front door was knocked on by The Irish Times after 8am this morning.

The two second floor windows of the house were open, and several banners and signs were still in place on the property.

The group is planning a public demonstration outside the property at 12pm.

On the group’s Facebook page, Summerhill Occupation, they said the occupation of the inner city house was “the beginning not the end.”

Calling for people to attend the protest outside the house, the post said “we will need all available people as we move into a new stage of the struggle.”

“We’re asking people to show up to the rally outside no 35 at 12pm today as there will be developments then,” a spokeswoman for the group said.

The group of housing activists occupying the property include members of Dublin Central Housing Action (DCHA) and student protest group Take Back Trinity. File photograph: James Forde
The group of housing activists occupying the property include members of Dublin Central Housing Action (DCHA) and student protest group Take Back Trinity. File photograph: James Forde

High Court ruling

In the High Court on Thursday, Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan granted the property owner PJ O Donnell (as trustee of the Pat O Donnell & Co Ltd Retirement and Death Benefit Plan) injunctions requiring persons unknown to vacate and cease trespassing at one of seven properties owned by the pension plan by 8am Friday morning.

The High Court order was taped to the doors of each of the properties. A note written in red pen on the order said any occupants who failed to vacate the building by 8am will be liable for “imprisonment for the purposes of compelling you to obey the same order.”

The properties are located at 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39 Summerhill Parade, Ballybough, in Dublin 1.

The High Court order on the door of one of the occupied houses. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The High Court order on the door of one of the occupied houses. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The court heard that of those houses number 35 is the only property occupied.

However, there has been some interference with the other properties, which have been vacant since May to allow fire safety works be completed, and the owner was concerned that the other properties may be interfered with.

The application was not opposed. While more than 20 people were present in court for Thursday’s hearing, when the court registrar asked for any of the persons unknown in occupation to identify themselves, he was greeted by silence.

The owner sought the orders due to fire safety concerns and because the house’s insurance coverage will be cancelled if the occupation, which has been described as a political protest and has been the subject of several recent media reports, continues.

Benefit plan

Mr O’Donnell, who holds the properties in trust for the members of the benefit plan, also seeks damages for trespass and intentional interference with the owner’s economic interests.

The court heard there are 67 members of the benefit plan, including 18 pensioners, who are employees and former employees of Pat O Donnell & Company.

Pat O’Donnell & Co is a machinery plant supply firm, and is a long time sponsors of Clare GAA.

Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The group of housing activists occupying the property include members of Dublin Central Housing Action (DCHA) and student protest group Take Back Trinity. The coalition of activists state they want the building to be purchased by Dublin City Council via compulsory purchase order, to be used as social housing.

In early May, a large number of primarily Brazilian tenants were evicted with 24 hours notice from the house, and five other neighbouring homes on the street owned by the fund, the DCHA has said. Up to 20 tenants had been living in each property, sharing rooms in cramped bunk bed accommodation.