Trinity student Conchúir Ó Ráidigh, who was arrested and later released last night as housing activists were evicted from an occupied property on North Frederick Street, spoke to Trinity News today about his experience.
Recalling his arrest, Ó Ráidigh told Trinity News that he was “grabbed” on entering North Frederick Street last night as Gardaí evicted occupiers. “They grabbed me, three or four of them, more or less instantaneously the minute I stepped onto the road.” He added that “usually you’d expect some kind of warning like ‘get off the road’ or ‘move over there’ and if you comply you’re okay and you won’t get that treatment.”
“They dragged me pretty strategically behind the parked garda public order unit van and there I got pretty badly roughed up,” said Ó Ráidigh. He remembered the incident and said that: “I was out of view of everybody, but they were putting punches into me, I got knees, I got elbows and the most serious thing I got was a knee to the head.”
He recalled that he was “adrenalised [sic]” and so “didn’t really feel” the pain at the time. “It wasn’t quite as noticeable, and when I got into the cell I could feel it getting worse and worse.”
Later in the night, Ó Ráidigh went to hospital for his injuries. He stated that: “I had very low energy and the decision was made that I had to go to hospital. I was taken, and I had scans taken through the night.”
Outlining his injuries, Ó Ráidigh reports that he suffered soft tissue damage through his neck, a small bone deviation, and a concussion. He was also told there was a possible “small bleed” in his brain.
However, Reddy was optimistic about the support that the housing rights movement had gained from coverage of the incident. He criticised the private security company present at the scene, saying: “People were kind of shocked and appalled by the response we got from the Gardaí and the private security company. The private security company were operating without their [Private Security Authority] PSA licences, and they have to do that.”
He also asked the question of “why were they [the Gardai] protecting a group of people that were wearing balaclavas from peaceful protestors.” Condemning the violence, Ó Ráidigh said that: “Violence and incitement that kind of thing is a no go for us, it’s something that we consciously avoid. Trying to paint us as violent and disruptive, it’s completely false.”
In closing, he recognised that the incident had rallied the public, and “captured the public imagination.” According to Ó Ráidigh, “people who aren’t usually political, and might not have gotten the arguments we made on the housing crisis, do understand that something is wrong. It’s been a galvanisation of the housing movement”.
The occupation on North Frederick Street lasted for 25 days before occupiers were evicted last night. The High Court issued an injunction two weeks ago calling on the occupiers to leave the property.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) have issued a statement condemning Ó Ráidigh’s arrest. A TCDSU delegation are set to attend a rally on North Frederick later this evening, where protesters are set to oppose the treatment of activists last night.