Wednesday 21st saw another successful defence against an eviction in Dublin. This time in the Stoneybatter area. We put out an alert after we were told that a gang of 3 men with crowbars "came this afternoon and broke in to one of the houses. About 40-50 people showed up outside to show support, then 5 Garda showed up. People inside resisted and argued until the alleged owners and Garda left the house and left the street to a large round of applause.
Everything is cool now. The street was closed off and there was lots of music, food, fun, and we managed to get the support of many parents and school children on the way home from school.
Generally speaking, the Garda didn't know what to do and there was wide public support. Small victory for now"
The men were attempting to evict and board up one of three houses on lower Grangegorman, which have been occupied in recent months after being left vacant for at least a decade. The occupiers who had earlier given us a tour of the houses showed how they had carried out numerous repairs in order to make the houses livable in. These three houses are connected a very large block of abandoned housing and industrial spacing which includes three large warehouses, huge concrete yards and three large office / retail spaces. With the increasing homelessness in Dublin and the deliberately reduced number of rental dwelling pushing up rent to unaffordable level for many this huge area being left in a state of deliberate decay and rot is indicative of the relationship between property speculators and the hundreds of thousands of city dwellers they prey off. There are large derelict areas all over Dublin city center that could house thousands if not tens of thousands if people occupied them and brought them back into use.
This eviction as with another attempted eviction on the south side the previous week failed. In large part this is down to the increased confidence and collective solidarity of the growing network of Dublin squatters and their supporters. We used our Facebook, Twitter and email notification system to spread news of the attempted eviction underway and this and the efforts of others, in particular the occupiers, meant that many people came down to support them.
Squatting has been a constant feature of Dublin live, if you are homeless and a building is abandoned its an obvious way of improving your situation. But in recent decades because of state repression and the use of hired thugs in informal violent evictions it has tended to be quite hidden. People have occupied building quietly and then abandoned them once discovered, being forced to move on frequently meaning little stability but also limiting the sort of repairs that it makes sense to carry out on abandoned buildings. In many European cities where squatters can acquire certain rights buildings are often brought back into full functionality. But in Ireland squatters, much like tenants, have little in the way of rights, all rights go to property speculators.
After having successfully resisted the eviction another squatter gave us a more detailed account of what had gone down
"At 12:45, we noticed three people trying to break into one of the three houses in Grangegorman. There was one person outside, and two inside, who had climbed through an open window. They had crowbars and hammers and were trying to get the front door open. We blocked the people inside from coming any further into the house than they already were, and tried to get the word out to as many people as possible to come down. We had people inside and outside. After they got the front door open, one of them tried to board up one of the windows with metal bars from the outside, but we stopped him. Somebody then U-locked the metal bars he wanted to put on the window to the fence.
Eventually, long after we had got loads of people down, the cops showed up. They came into the house. First they talked to us. There was a half-hearted argument about whether we were allowed to film them or not, but they dropped that pretty quickly. They wanted to talk to just one of us alone, but we refused to be individuated. We told them that we were the owners because we had possession of the building, which is a form of title (albeit a weak one).
We explained that the "owners" had no documentation of having any form of title, and that they had just broken into our house, and that we have video evidence of that. And even if they did have a stronger form of title (e.g., a freehold), that doesn't necessarily give them the right to immediate possession, and such a question is a matter for a civil court to decide by an order of possession.
The cops then asked for our names, but we told them that we weren't going to give them our names unless they had reasonable suspicion that we'd committed an offence, which they didn't. The cops then talked to the "owners". I don't know what exactly they said, but they all left after about five minutes; the cops and the "owners". One of the heavies stayed afterwards, and so did all of us.
We hung out in the sun and played music, and we nicknamed their heavy "Johnny Crowbar". A song was even written about him, and it went like this:
Not today, Johnny Crowbar, not today,
You say that we're all homeless, we say "ain't no fuckin' way"!
Well get the fuck up out my home, Johnny Crowbar,
Ain't nothin' you can do, we're here to stay
So not today, Johnny Crowbar, not today,
You say you're here to work, but we're stayin' here to play!
Go away, Johnny Crowbar, go away,
Or quit your job and just hang out, you'd be better off that way"
For some background you could do worse than listen to the Housing Action meeting recorded at this years Dublin Anarchist Bookfair. It's at http://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/dublin-housin...udio/