Sunday 25 September 2016

Arrest and jailing of Grangegorman squatters ordered by High Court

Tim Healy

Published 19/05/2015 | 18:08

Rosie posing in the communal garden at the ‘squatters’ complex in Grangegorman in Dublin where the attempted eviction by security personnel took place earlier this week. Photo: Mark Stedman/ Photocall
Rosie posing in the communal garden at the ‘squatters’ complex in Grangegorman in Dublin where the attempted eviction by security personnel took place earlier this week. Photo: Mark Stedman/ Photocall
The house at the Grangegorman squat. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The courtyard of the property at the centre of the dispute.

The High Court has ordered the arrest and jailing for contempt of a number of people remaining in buildings in Grangegorman, Dublin, which a bank-appointed receiver is trying to take over.

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NAMA appointed receiver Luke Charleton secured orders for the jailing of a named man and the arrest of all other unidentified persons remaining in occupation of properties.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ordered that Stephen Bedford be jailed for 14 days or until such time as he purges his contempt of the court's order directing all those living at the properties to leave there by May 4.

The judge said it appeared some 20 other people were also residing at the properties in breach of the court order.

He was issuing a warrant directing they be arrested by gardai and brought before the court to explain why they should not be also jailed.

An agent for Mr Charleton claims up to 50 people were seen entering and exiting the properties at Lower Grangegorman and North Brunswick Street despite the judge's order of last March directing the properties be vacated by May 4.

Mr Charleton wants to sell the properties to go towards repayment of a debt of €21.9m owed by businessman Paschal Conroy.

An appeal which was lodged against the court order requiring the properties be vacated was struck out due to non-attendance of the appellants, the court heard.

The appellants complained the matter was struck out before 10.30am last Wednesday, when one aspect of the matter was listed for mention, and told Mr Justice Gilligan it was intended to seek reinstatement of the appeal.

Two men, Stephen Bedford and Gréum Ná Hearadh, were in court to oppose the receiver's application.

Mr Bedford asked for more time to deal with the matter and to seek to reinstate the appeal. There was no evidence of contempt of the court orders, he argued.

In documents read by Mr Bedford, it was alleged there was no basis for the court order to have been made. It was also claimed the property had been damaged by actions of staff of security groups and occupants of the properties had health and safety concerns.

It was also alleged an "illegal, forced" eviction was attempted prior to the court hearing and the receiver refused to negotiate with the "residents" who wanted an opportunity to put forward a cash proposal to the receiver.

The property was a form of social housing and many of the occupants would be homeless if forced to leave, it was also argued.

Mr Na Hearadh said he no longer lived in the properties but was representing the interests of the Grangegorman Community Collective and persons unknown who wished to appeal the judge's March order.

The judge said Mr O Hearadh could not represent the collective and any person who wished to be assisted would have to attend court. 

In his ruling, the judge said the evidence from Mr Bedford himself was he remains on the property and has "absolutely no regard" for the  orders.

The judge said he believed Mr Bedford did not fully realise the implications of his position and that he had effectively said he would not comply. The court could not stand idly by while its orders were ignored, he said.

He made an order jailing Mr Bedford for 14 days or until such time as he purges his contempt.

There was no need for an order against Mr O Hearadh as the court accepted his evidence that he had left the property and had no reason to return, the judge added.

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