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Parkgate House: Homeless activists protest after gardaí remove people from vacant property

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 26/09/2022 Lauren Boland
The protest on Parkgate Street this morning © Caeimin Burke The Journal The protest on Parkgate Street this morning

HOUSING ACTIVISTS PROTESTED in Dublin 8 this morning after a Garda operation removed a number of people who had been staying in a vacant property allegedly in breach of a court order.

Several men are to appear before the High Court following the operation in Parkgate House. Gardaí confirmed that an operation was put in place early this morning to execute a High Court order.

A Garda spokesperson said: “This operation has since concluded, and a number of males are now set to appear before the High Court later today.”

The order was made in respect of persons linked to a group called the Revolutionary Housing League, which has been occupying the property since August and refer to it as Ionad Seán Heuston.

During that time, activists say more than 40 homeless people have resided in the premises, where they had access to facilities such as tents and showers. 

Last week, a High Court judge directed that all persons in breach of an injunction requiring them to vacate building be arrested and brought before the court.

Gardaí entered the property this morning around 5.30am and removed the people who were staying inside.

A protest had already been planned at the location this morning, which saw activists and residents gather from around 10am while gardaí blocked the entrance to the site.

Green Party TD for Dublin South Central Patrick Costello questioned if “operations such as this are the best use of police resources”. 

He added: “This is not the first time we have seen such action unilaterally being taken, Apollo House being another such example.”

While the Green Party TD acknowledged “concerns regarding the suitability and safety of the site,” he said the occupation “serves to further highlight the plague of dereliction and vacancy in our capital city”.

Deputy Costello also called on ”Dublin City Council Management and the Minister need to get serious about this issue,” further claiming that the “existing parameters for registering a site as vacant or derelict are far too low”. 

Homeless people who had been staying at the premises say they do not know now where they will sleep tonight.

One woman who had been staying in the building told The Journal she was previously living in hostels where she feared for her safety, but that she had felt safe in the Parkgate building.

“We don’t know where we’re going to be able to lay our heads tonight,” the woman said. 

“We were family in there. We could trust each other. We could go to bed with a smile on our face and wake up and not fear anything,” she said.

“In hostels, there are addicts, but in here where we were, no drugs were permitted in the premises, there were no drinks permitted in the premises, and all of us became a family.” 

She said that they felt their dignity had been taken from them and they felt frightened during the operation this morning.

“We will fight and fight until our voices are heard because the homelessness is not decreasing,” she said.

Another woman who was living in the building explained that she is a student who is currently studying two courses and felt unsafe living in her family home because of mental health issues.

She said staying at the premises allowed her attend her classes, get a good night’s sleep, and share resources with others in the building.

“We were all sharing and bringing food back to the place. We know the soup runs quite well so we’d get food from the soup run and they’d give us extra food.”

“There were separate spaces for couples and a separate space for a women’s floor.”

She expressed disappointment in the persisting housing crisis and in the conversion of residential or community spaces into expensive developments that price-out locals.

She said that Ireland “fought for our independence, it’s the centenary of our independence” and that she “can’t imagine how the women and men who fought for independence would be feeling” about how some people in Ireland are treated today.

“I don’t know how much worse things have to become in the country before we have another revolution,” she said. “The 21st century is the first century where we’ve yet to have a revolution and it’s needed.”

Additional reporting by Emer Moreau

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