Nine tenants evicted from north Dublin property by men in masks and dark clothing

‘This is our home, in the middle of the pandemic you threw us on the road’

Nine tenants have been evicted from a house they were renting in Phibsborough, north Dublin with a number of men repossessing and boarding up the property. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Nine tenants have been evicted from a house they were renting in Phibsborough, north Dublin with a number of men repossessing and boarding up the property on Wednesday morning.

Eight of the tenants are foreign nationals and many of them had been living in the Berkeley Road property for a number of years.

They said several men wearing all black, face coverings, caps and sunglasses entered the house on Wednesday morning, instructed the tenants inside to leave and then boarded up the front door and windows.

The tenants spent several hours afterwards outside the house, with their belongings and bin bags full of clothes on the pavement.

Speaking outside the property, Theresa Chimamkpam (45) said she had been living in the house since 2011, and had not been served an eviction notice to vacate the home.

“This morning we were inside, I was in bed, they broke the door, they entered into our home … I was so terrified,” she told The Irish Times.

“This is our home, in the middle of the pandemic you threw us on the road … I lived in this home nearly nine years, within seconds I am homeless now,” she said.

It was “very difficult to get accommodation” and Ms Chimamkpam said she had approached Dublin City Council about housing.

‘Legal dispute’

Ms Chimamkpam said she had been working but was currently on the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment.

The landlord, Gerry Ward, said he had been involved with the property since around 2004. He has been involved in a legal dispute over it since 2017 with a property fund, Beltany Property Finance, he told The Irish Times.

“That has not been finally resolved, that has not been fully resolved,” he said, adding he had not been aware of the property’s repossession until he was contacted by the tenants.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs, which controls Beltany, said the fund sold the property on June 2nd to an individual.

Elias Niyi Adbo Jegede (47) was another tenant at the house, who came to Ireland from Nigeria in 2005, and had been living in the home for several years.

“What happened here is someone that has lived here for several years was evicted within 10 minutes … I don’t see how this is happening in Ireland,” he said.

“Whatever is happening with the landlord, which is the defendant, and the plaintiff, it’s not my business, I’m just a tenant here,” he said.

As Mr Adbo Jegede was physically removed from the property, a number of gardaí watched on from the street outside the front door, according to video footage.

Supporting tenants

On Wednesday evening, a number of activists from the Dublin Central Housing Action group were outside the house to support the tenants.

Two Garda public order units were called to the scene after the activists arrived, but were not deployed. The housing group was previously involved in several high-profile occupations of vacant Dublin city properties in 2018, protesting over the housing crisis.

Emergency accommodation had been sourced for a number of the tenants on Wednesday night by a voluntary group, Inner City Helping Homeless.

The Government recently lifted a blanket ban on rental evictions during the coronavirus pandemic, and limited the protection to renters who had lost income as a result of the Covid-19.

A Garda spokesman said legal representatives of the property’s owner attended Mountjoy Garda station on Wednesday “to inform Gardaí that they intended to secure their premises”.

Gardaí “noted the proposed activity but did not attend the premises at the time”, he said.

During the eviction a tenant made an emergency call to gardaí at 11am, and a number of units attended the scene, but “the majority were quickly stood down”, the spokesman said.

“Subsequently a number of Garda personnel remained at the scene with the primary function to prevent breaches of the peace and ensure the safety of all persons involved,” he said.