Housing activists bring Dublin to a standstill with sit-down protest

Latest: Up to 1,000 protesters have taken part in a major housing demonstration during rush hour in Dublin city centre.

The protest has been organised by the Take Back The City group following an eviction at North Frederick Street last night.

Gardaí have been criticised following last night's scenes on the streets where five activists were arrested and one was hospitalised.

Tonight's protest by the Take Back the City group in Dublin. Pic: Collins

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger is concerned that only rich people being protected.

She said: "The Gardaí didn't cause the housing crisis, but it's about the way that they were used and who ther are used in the interests of.

"It's in the interests of landlords and very wealthy people.

"I put this at the door of the Housing Minister and the Government. What have they got to say? They've been completely silent on this."

Earlier: Housing activists stage major protest in Dublin

Take Back the City protestors are at the northern end of O'Connell St in Dublin.

They are staging a sit-down protest which has blocked several roads in the area and drivers have been advised to take an alternative route.

Activists say they will not be intimated and will continue to occupy vacant and derelict buildings.

Young people make up the majority of the crowd and some say it is unacceptable for the Government not to have made more progress in resolving the problem.

One protestor said: "I just feel like 105 years on from the Lockout of 1913 that there is still this incredible slumlandlordism in this area, and it's just insane."

Another said: "There has been plenty of time to make some headway on it, and there hasn't been.

"I think that housing is a human right and it's the responsibility of a government to look after its people, and it has not been doing so."

Tonight's protest in Dublin. Pic via @TBTCDublin

They began this evening's protest at the site of the eviction in response to last night's events.

The demonstration then moved to Parnell Square and O'Connell Street, where protesters began a sit-down protest.

Organisers of this evening's protest said they would be "taking to the roads, shutting down traffic in rush hour" to make a statement that last night's events "cannot and will not be tolerated".

Earlier: Amnesty concerned about 'possible excessive' force used by Gardaí at Dublin housing protest

Amnesty International Ireland have said they are concerned about the reports and video footage from last night's eviction and protest at North Frederick Street.

The group identified what they called "excessive and unnecessary use of force" by Gardaí and said they were especially worried about what appears to be private security service personnel not displaying identity badges

Fiona Crowley, Research and Legal Manager for Amnesty International Ireland, said: “What we have seen raises concerns about possible excessive and unnecessary use of force against what appear to be largely peaceful protestors.

"Whenever the lawful use of force by An Garda Síochána is unavoidable, it must be used with restraint and in proportion to the seriousness of the law enforcement objective.

“Gardaí should only facilitate and support the actions of private security personnel where they are lawful and do not involve excessive force.

"In this regard, it is of concern that the private security personnel reportedly failed to display identity badges, as required under section 30 of the Private Security Services Act."

Earlier: GRA: Gardaí showed restraint in face of provocation at Dublin housing protest

“We urge that these events be investigated as a matter of urgency to ascertain if human rights abuses were committed, and if so, ensure appropriate action.”

John O'Keeffe, Director of Communications for the GRA, has defended members of An Garda Síochána and the Public Order Unit who were involved in last night's protest at North Frederick Street.

Mr O'Keeffe said that certain members of the Public Order Unit were deployed to the scene after intelligence was received that they may need to employ gardaí with specialist training.

The scene on North Frederick St last night. Pic: John Rooney

Responding to criticism of members of the gardaí wearing balaclavas, he said: "The Public Order Unit uniform is designed to act as an optical deterrence to violence and on the vast majority of occasions this will be successful."

He added that members were still identifiable by the Reg Numbers on their shoulders.

The hood is flame retardant and in a time when horrific acid attacks are becoming more prevalent, it also offers some further protection from sprays or gases, or any other noxious substance, that may be used against our Members in this Unit.

Frontline members were praised by Mr O'Keeffe for doing "an incredible job protecting the general public".

"The Public Order Unit should be especially commended for the typical restraint they always exhibit and indeed showed, in the face of provocation in North Frederick Street.

"The arrests following assaults on gardaí, show how important a presence they can be in certain situations."

Earlier: Gardaí defend wearing of balaclavas at Dublin housing protest

Gardaí have defended members wearing balaclavas at a housing protest in Dublin's North Inner City last night.

Images have surfaced following a demonstration by activist group Take Back The City.

Gardaí attended the scene on North Frederick Street yesterday as people occupying a property were evicted.

Pic: John Rooney

They have been criticised for wearing balaclavas while attending the disturbance on the street.

Councillor Roderic O'Gorman, the Green Party's Justice Spokesperson, says he finds the images disturbing.

"I just think it's quite disturbing that we see a protest being policed in this particular way," said Mr O'Gorman.

I don't think it meets the criteria of transparency and openness that we would expect from policing.

Garda Press has confirmed the balaclava is made of the same fire retardant material as the rest of their uniform and is a worn for Health and Safety reasons.

They deny the balaclava is an attempt to conceal the identity of their members and confirmed their ID number is visible on the chest area of the uniform if they need to be identified.

They also confirmed they were not involved in evicting people from the property and only dealt with the ensuing disturbance on the street.

Two people are due in court next month after five arrests were made during the clashes.

Earlier: Anti-homelessness activists say some 'pushed down stairs' during Dublin raid

Two people are due in court next month after five people were arrested during clashes in Dublin's north inner city over the housing crisis.

Another two of those arrested received adult cautions while the fifth was released without charge and a file is being prepared for the DPP.

People protesting outside Store Street Garda Station. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The number of people reported to have been arrested was six but Gardaí have since revised that number down to five.

Scuffles broke out when a group of activists were forcibly evicted from a vacant house on North Frederick Street yesterday evening.

The Take Back the City group has been holding sit-ins to highlight the number of homes sitting empty during the housing crisis.

Eoin from the group says a number of people were injured: "One person suffered concussion...someone else suffered serious shoulder injuries...someone else had very severe bleeding and cuts on their arm."

In a statement, the group also claimed that Gardaí had used "physical force in the process".

Gardaí have said that their only role in the eviction was to prevent a breach of the peace.

"The eviction itself was peaceful. However, a large crowd gathered on the street and five people (one woman and four men) were subsequently arrested for public order offences and assaults on Garda members," said the Garda Press Office.

Earlier: Activists arrested during housing action protest have been released

Six people have been arrested after a large group of housing activists marched on Store Street Garda Station in Dublin last night.

All of those arrested were released late last night.

It followed an earlier protest at North Frederick Street, where some were arrested for public order offences, during an eviction at a building being occupied by the group 'Take Back the City'.

'Eoin' - a spokesperson for the group - said the trouble began earlier in the evening.

"When protestors mobilised outside 34 North Frederick Street during the protest a number of activists were arrested, injuries were sustained and a mobilisation happened outside Store Street Garda Station where between 150 and 200 people, activists and members of the community, protested outside Store Street Garda Station demanding the release of the activists," said Eoin.


In a statement released this morning Take Back the City said that "several of those arrested subsequently presented to hospital for treatment on injuries sustained before and during their arrests".

The property on North Frederick Street was taken over by a group last month.

It followed a 10-day occupation of a building at Summerhill Parade a short distance away which ended after the High Court ordered protesters to leave.

Those involved in the demonstrations have argued that houses should not be allowed to sit vacant during the housing crisis.

The group intend to hold a solidarity rally later today.

Digital Desk


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