Summerhill housing activists call for resignation of Housing Minister

This follows the cancellation of a meeting with the minister that was set to take place today

Trinity students have today joined a demonstration calling for the resignation of Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy. A number of housing activist groups, including members of Take Back Trinity, assembled outside of the Department of Housing today and read out their demands to Minister Murphy. This followed a meeting which failed to take place today. The meeting was agreed last week as a result of an occupation of the Custom House.

The group claimed that Minister Murphy has “substantially changed the terms of the meeting” and it was ultimately declined by the group due to logistical issues. The demonstrators gathered outside of the building, holding placards and signs relating to the housing crisis shortly before 3pm.  

The group is urging that a motion of no confidence be called against Minister Murphy when the Dáil resumes on September 18. They cited support from Sinn Féin, Solidarity – People Before Profit, Social Democrats and Independents4Change.

This followed a march from an occupied house on North Frederick Street. Around 30 demonstrators met at the property and marched to the building at 2pm, with more joining the group outside of the department building.

Protestors also spoke at the demonstration, with one suggesting that if the government fails to take action “hunger strikes are next”. Dublin City councillor Tina McVeigh also spoke, and said that occupations are “the only thing that’s going to put the shits up the government”.

The group have three main demands. The first of these is the compulsory purchase of 33 to 39 Summerhill, which were previously occupied by today’s demonstrators. They also called for the compulsory purchase of all vacant land in the capital, and the tightening of rent controls, with caps of €300 per person, or a limit of 20% of a person’s income.

The failed meeting follows the occupation of the Custom House last Wednesday. Occupiers entered the building seeking to issue a list of their demands to Minister Murphy, who was absent at the time. Occupiers refused to leave the building until the meeting was agreed upon.

Following this occupation, the activists took control of a property on North Frederick Street. The group claimed that the property had been vacant for over three years, while under the control of insurance company McGreal Insurance. The property is currently under the control of occupiers, with protestors frequently assembling outside.

The occupiers previously vacated 35 Summerhill Parade, following a High Court injunction. The injunction was applied for by PJ O’Donnell, with no opposition in the court. This was due to fears of interference with the property. Occupiers moved from the property to the property currently occupied in North Frederick Street. The occupation of the Summerhill property lasted 10 days.

Trinity students have been involved in the Festival of Direct Action, which has seen multiple demonstrations held across the capital. It began with the occupation of global real estate investment company Kennedy Wilson, and seen demonstrators march in the Trans Pride Parade to bring attention to the issue of housing.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is the current Assistant Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister Law student, and a former Deputy News Editor.