A group which has taken over Lefroy House on Dublin's Eden Quay will not leave if the High Court grants an injunction for their removal this week, according to one member there. "We are motivated by our sense of justice. We see more laws for property and materialism than there is for the protection of people," he said.
"We're staying," said 72-year-old Seán Doyle of the Revolutionary Workers Union on Monday. "As far as we are concerned, laws are subordinate to the rights of people."
However, he said he would attend relevant court proceedings.
He characterised himself as a “socialist republican” and said he had been through courts during the water campaign and would attend a hearing on the matter.
He had been summoned to appear and would set out his position when there, he said.
The group also plans to take over other vacant buildings. "There are many on the horizon. We have another one we have acquired which we will name Liam Mellows House," he said.
Speaking at the renamed James Connolly House (Teach Uí Chonghaile) on Eden Quay, he said "we don't use the term occupation." The Revolutionary Workers Council had " passed an acquisition order" on the building.
They moved into the Dublin city centre premises on May 1st, International Labour Day, and have been there since. Asked how many of the group are residing at the building, he replied, "a few".
What about Ukrainian refugees?
There was no particular reason for selecting Lefroy House other than it was vacant, he said. “Just the same as the next one . . . will not be because of any circumstances other than they are a vacant, empty building and have been for a while,” he added.
Lefroy House has been on a long lease to the Salvation Army and was used as emergency accommodation for minors in crisis until closure in early 2021. It had been hoped to accommodate Ukrainian refugees there from early next month.
The Revolutionary Workers Union had not been aware that Lefroy House was being prepared to accommodate Ukrainians. “As far as we are concerned everybody that’s on that street deserves a roof over their head regardless of where they come from,” said Mr Doyle.
Last Friday lawyers for the Salvation Army (Republic of Ireland) company started High Court proceedings against persons unknown, who it alleged were occupying illegally and trespassing on the premises.
Ms Justice Emily Egan granted the Salvation Army permission to serve short notice of the injunction's proceedings on those in the building. She said it was accepted the plaintiff had made out a strong case that was likely to succeed at trial. But the court was not prepared at that stage to grant any interim injunction against persons whose identities were then unknown and the case was adjourned to Wednesday of this week.
“The purpose of the acquisition of this building is basically to highlight the continuing lockup of vacant properties all over the country,” said Mr Doyle.
Resolution of housing crisis
He added that where homelessness is concerned “people used to think it was a failing of the State. We don’t believe it is; we believe it is an unwillingness of the State. They could have resolved the housing crisis a long, long time ago . . . the horrendous reality is that it is now being normalised that a certain section of the community will remain at the mercy of the streets and the elements.
“The other legacy is that a younger generation, because this has persisted for so long, will actually see homelessness and deaths on the street as normal if we don’t stop it . . . Possibly the greatest crime of all is that over so many years thousands of young children have lost their childhood” due to homelessness.
In renaming buildings after James Connolly and Liam Mellows the Revolutionary Workers Union is contesting the legacy of those “counterrevolutionaries” who represented “the better off and who, in collusion with the British, wrote the treaty  and that treaty to this day is why we have such inequity in our society,” he said.