Housing activists say they will defy court order to leave occupied property

Notice says if the protesters fail to leave the property, the owner would seek an injunction

Hundreds of ‘Take Back the City’ protesters gather in Dublin city centre in protest against activists being removed from a property. Video: Kathleen Harris

 

Housing activists at the centre of the protest movement occupying vacant properties in Dublin city say they will not follow a legal warning to vacate a building they have taken over in Dublin city centre.

Occupants took over 41 Belvedere Place on September 8th, the third building the activists have occupied in protest of the housing crisis since early August.

On Tuesday, the group behind the protest, Take Back the City, were served a legal notice by lawyers acting on behalf of the owner, demanding the occupants leave the building by 6pm on Thursday.

In a statement to The Irish Times the protesters said they would not heed the legal notice and would remain in the property.

If the protesters fail to leave the property the owner would seek an injunction at the High Court, the notice served to the property stated.

The group said they “will defy any injunction” from the courts requiring them to leave the building. The activists said they “would encourage groups across the country to take similar action to ours,” and added there was a “moral responsibility to take direct action” in response to the current housing crisis.

The property is owned by MJH Property Management Ltd. The firm is registered in the UK, and Michael (Mike) Joseph Horgan is listed as the sole director. The firm reported assets of £3.1 million in 2017, according to filed accounts.

The legal notice was served to the occupants of the property by Dungarvan-based solicitors Lanigan and Curran, acting on behalf of the owner. The building had previously been used as housing, but has been vacant for a number of years.

The letter stated the building was “unsuitable” for habitation, as support structures had previously been removed from the top floors of the four storey building, which created a safety risk to anyone inside.

The letter warned if occupants failed to leave the premises and “if it becomes necessary to make the threatened court application, we will also seek an appropriate costs order for the legal costs incurred by our client.”

The letter also warned the property was not currently compliant with fire safety regulations.

Planning permission to convert the interior of the Belvedere Place property from 10 bedsit units to four apartments was granted by Dublin City Council on June 26th.

The address of MJH Property Management is listed as Sallybrook, Dungarvan, Co Waterford on the planning application. A previous application to redevelop the rooms as nine ensuite bedrooms was refused in 2016.

On Tuesday evening a group of men wearing balaclavas secured another property the activists had been occupying for the last three weeks, 34 North Frederick Street. The Department of Justice said the repossession was carried out by “a private firm acting for the owner of the premises”.

Gardaí from the public order unit attended the scene to separate the men who entered the property from a large number of activists from the Take Back The City group.

The owner of the property, Patricia Ní Greil, had secured a High Court injunction on August 28th requiring the protesters to leave the building, which the occupants defied.