Housing protests escalate as occupiers seize third property

Take Back Trinity members are involved in the housing protests

Take Back Trinity are among housing activists who have launched an occupation this evening of a property on Belvedere Place. Protesters marched to the property following a rally outside the GPO, which drew around 100 supporters.

Housing activists including students marched from O’Connell Street to Mountjoy Square where two Garda vans were present. One van blocked the entrance to the square while the other remained at a distance from the marchers. The group proceeded to 41 Belvedere Place, which is owned by Michael Joseph Horgan, and successfully entered the building.

Protesters are also currently engaged in an occupation of 34 North Frederick Street, which has been ongoing for more than three weeks. In a statement issued today, activist group Take Back The City explained this evening’s action is an “expansion rather than a move from one property to another”.

“Property hoarding in any context is completely unacceptable, but in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in housing, it is downright tasteless,” the statement continued.  “Whether it’s serial offenders such as the McGreal family, who own 34 North Frederick Street, or those whose political leanings should surely prevent them from ever indulging in such crass behaviour, our message is unambiguous: slum landlords and land hoarders have had it too good for too long. We are coming for you.”

Occupiers defied an injunction from the High Court ordering them to vacate 34 North Frederick Street on August 29, deciding to expand resistance to occupy an additional property rather than rolling efforts back. The series of occupations was sparked by the occupation of 35 Summerhill Parade last month, which followed housing activists marching as a bloc in Dublin’s first Trans Pride Parade.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Shane De Rís and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Oisín Vince Coulter attended the launch of housing coalition “Raise The Roof” on Thursday, which announced its plan to hold a lunchtime protest on October 3 supporting a private members’ bill that will raise the housing crisis in the Dáil “on behalf of the people who need to hear a voice loud and clear in their support”.

Students across the country have pledged their support to the protest, led by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Speaking at Thursday’s launch, USI Vice-President for Campaigns Michelle Byrne said that students are “sick of being taken advantage of” and are ready to demand “fit-for-purpose student accommodation over our heads”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted yesterday that there is no “quick fix” to the housing crisis, while Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government Eoghan Murphy warned local authorities earlier this week that he may use “emergency powers” to bring their functions into the remit of his own department if they do not follow his instructions. Fine Gael TDs and Senators discussed the housing crisis at length yesterday at a Fine Gael think-in in Galway.

Meanwhile, the Irish Housing Network hosted their relaunch today, inviting new groups to join the grassroots housing campaign. The Irish Housing Network offered their support for Take Back The City’s latest occupation.

Ireland’s official homeless count is currently estimated at around 10,000, with many activists including Father Peter McVerry, founder of the Peter McVerry Trust, asserting that the actual rate is much higher as the official count does not include people sleeping on the streets, in cars, tents, or on couches.

Additional reporting by Peter Kelly.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.