Trinity student arrested as occupiers removed by Gardaí

25 day occupation on North Frederick Street has come to a forced end

One Trinity student and one student from Dublin City University (DCU) are among activists who have been arrested during the removal of occupiers from an occupied North Frederick Street property this evening. Multiple public order unit gardaí dressed in bulletproof vests and masks entered the property, with occupiers being detained shortly after. The occupation lasted for 25 days.

The forced evacuation comes 13 days after a High Court injunction was issued, ordering occupiers to vacate the building. Occupiers did not fulfill this order and have since expanded protests to occupy an additional property in Belvedere Place. The injunction was granted against “all persons unknown in occupation of 34 Frederick St North”.

Supporters of the occupation are now marching to Store Street Garda Station to call for the release of the occupiers. However, it is unclear whether the activists have been taken to Store Street or another station.

Speaking to Trinity News at the property this evening, Take Back Trinity member Sean Egan stated that “We’ve seen about a dozen masked public order unit facilitate the eviction of the Frederick Street operation, by also private security operators”.

He noted that they “beat people with night sticks, they sprayed people who weren’t doing anything with pepper spray”. He expressed his disappointment at the aggression and said that he had “never seen police act in such an aggressive fashion. It is absolutely despicable”.

Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President, and member of Take Back Trinity, Oisín Vince Coulter also spoke to Trinity News and said that “it’s an absolute disgrace that the guards have been deployed to protect the interests of landlords who were violently evicting a group of housing activists that were protesting against a crippling situation in this country”.

He also said that “10s of thousands of people homeless and thousands of students desperately trying to find accommodation; this attack upon our right to protest is a complete disgrace and cannot stand”.

The property on North Frederick Street is owned by Patricia Ní Greil. Ní Greil is the daughter of Colm McGreal, who is an insurance broker at McGreal Insurance. Occupiers claimed that the property had been vacant for over three years, justifying their occupation.

Three days ago, after housing activists launched an occupation of 41 Belvedere Place. Over 100 supporters march from the GPO in solidarity with the action.

Take Back The City issued a statement explaining that the occupation at Belvedere Place was “an expansion rather than a move from one property to another, as activists are continuing to occupy 34 North Frederick Street; despite the High Court Injunction issued against them”.

In the statement, organisers from the Take Back the City group noted that “property hoarding in any context is completely unacceptable, but in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in housing, it is downright tasteless”.

The occupiers have three main demands. These are the tightening of rent caps, to limits of €300, or 20% of a person’s income. They also call for the compulsory purchase of all vacant sites in Dublin, and more specifically the purchase of 33 to 39 North Frederick street.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Shane De Rís and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Oisín Vince Coulter also attended the launch of housing coalition, “Raise The Roof” on Thursday. They announced their plans to hold a lunchtime protest on October 3 in support of a private member’s bill that will raise the housing crisis in the Dáil.

Elsewhere this evening, students are currently staging a campout in Galway’s Eyre Square to protest the rising rent costs of student accomodation. In a move supported by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Students’ Unions in from National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) have called on students to take to the streets this evening to protest the lack of affordable housing for students in Galway. Speaking to Trinity News, USI President Síona Cahill stated: “Students are being priced out of education not only by the second highest fees in Europe but by accommodation providers charging extortionate prices.”

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.