A Fine Gael city councillor in Cork has told Cork's Evening Echo the occupation of a vacant building in the city as an “attention seeking stunt” by protestors behaving like Robin Hood.
Protestors, some linked to the Occupy Cork movement, have taken control of a vacant 2,300-square metre building on Oliver Plunkett Street in the city.
They say they will use the building to provide voluntary services to the community.
However, Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill said the occupation is unacceptable and without justification.
He said: “This is purely attention seeking. It’s a child throwing his toys out of the pram. I believe these protestors realised that the camp on the South Mall was achieving very little so they have now decided to step up their campaign by taking this action.
“What will they do next? What is to stop these protestors taking over the Elysian Tower to try to reduce the housing waiting list? Will they take over AIB to hand out free money?”
“This is Robin Hood stuff and it’s completely unacceptable.”
However, a spokesman for the protestors described Mr Cahill’s comments as daft.
“Has he looked at the state of the nation? How can he say there is no justification? There is no justification for people being thrown out of their homes. There is no justification for the way this country has been run.”
The protestors said a representative of the building’s owners visited the property yesterday with gardaí to inform them that they had no right to be there.
There was no attempt to remove them, however.
The protestors are now demanding to see proof of ownership and are claiming a legal right to be there.
They said they were given a key to the building and did not use force to enter it.
Gardaí have said that they expect the owner of the building to seek a court order to have the protestors removed. If this is granted, then gardaí will enforce that court order.
The occupation of the Oliver Plunkett Street building was described as an “interesting development” by the former Green Party senator and party chairman Dan Boyle.
Mr Boyle said he “hopes it forces NAMA to deliver on the social dividend that it’s meant to,” he added.
Mr Boyle said on Facebook that the illegality of the occupation was questionable.
“It could be argued that this building, and many like it, have been paid for by the Irish people many times over.
“As long as there isn’t criminal damage on the premises, it is a legitimate protest,” he added.