Homeless activists vow to remain in vacant house ‘indefinitely’

Groups want council to buy property in north inner city Dublin for social housing

Protesters hold Leo Varadkar masks  outside the house in Ballybough which has been occupied by  activists since Tuesday. Photograph: James Forde

Protesters hold Leo Varadkar masks outside the house in Ballybough which has been occupied by activists since Tuesday. Photograph: James Forde

 

Housing activists who are occupying a vacant house in Dublin’s inner city have said they will continue to do so “indefinitely” until Dublin City Council purchases the property for social housing.

On Tuesday night a coalition of housing campaign groups broke into the property, 35 Summerhill Parade, Ballybough, Dublin 1.

Groups involved in the protest included Dublin Central Housing Action, the Dublin Renters’ Union, and student protest group Take Back Trinity.

The activists held a protest outside the house on Thursday, attended by more than 100 people. The crowd wore face masks of the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and heard from several speakers.

The home is believed to have been vacant since early May, following an inspection by Dublin Fire Brigade, which raised fire safety issues at the property, a Dublin City Council (DCC) spokeswoman said.

A large number of primarily Brazilian tenants were evicted with 24 hours’ notice from the house, and five other neighbouring homes on the street.

Speech

Seamus Farrell, a member of Dublin Central Housing Action, gave a speech outside the property on Thursday.

“In the middle of a housing crisis, there is empty houses across the country while children are sleeping in Garda stations, rents are going up, families are being evicted,” he said.

“Every bit of land, every house that is empty, it doesn’t matter, it needs to be used for people’s need.”

The group is demanding the council use a compulsory purchase order to buy the vacant home and use it for social housing. A spokesman for the activists said the occupation would continue “indefinitely”.

Shifts

Nearly 200 people have signed up to help assist the protest, either by taking shifts sleeping inside the house, or helping with outreach events.

A spokeswoman for An Garda Síochána said the occupation was a “civil matter” and not a criminal one. Activists occupying the house said they have not been contacted by the owner of the building.

Mark Anthony Douglas (36), from Ballybough, said he was supporting the protest. “There’s people living on couches in this area that’s on the housing list,” he said.

On Thursday morning reinforced steel doors were placed on the front of five neighbouring properties, believed to belong to the same owner as the occupied house.