Friday 23 March 2018

Squatters ordered to leave disused prison due to safety concerns

A house at the Grangegorman 'Squat City' site pictured in 2015 Photo: Steve Humphreys
A house at the Grangegorman 'Squat City' site pictured in 2015 Photo: Steve Humphreys

Saurya Cherfi

Squatters, who broke into a disused prison, have been told by a judge to leave the former debtors’ jail because of safety concerns,

The Department of Public Expenditure and the Office of Public Works told the court they had serious concerns about the safety of the group and of people visiting them as the building was in a derelict condition.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna today granted the State bodies an injunction requiring the group, which was recently ordered by the High Court to leave a squat in Grangegorman, to vacate the former prison.

Judge Hanna allowed the squatters a week to get out and directed them not to re-enter the old jail.

Barrister Joseph O’Sullivan told the court the building, between Halston Street and Green Street, had no running water and there were fears its electrical circuit would not support various appliances which were brought in recently.

Mr O’Sullivan said the access to the former prison roof was dangerous and the State had serious concerns about the safety of the people involved. He said there was also health concern about the effect of pigeon droppings on young children.

The State had applied for an interlocutory injunction against the group which was converting cells into bedrooms.  The court heard that according to local residents about 100 people had been seen moving furniture into the building.   

The State argued that the long unoccupied prison was now in a poor state of repair and it was important to have the squatters removed immediately for their own safety.

Mr O’Sullivan said Mr Justice David Keane had granted the State, leave to serve the group with short notice of today’s legal proceedings.  It had been pinned to the prison gate.

Today several members of the group attended the court hearing.  They claimed the State had no better title to the property than themselves and asked to be allowed time to file a replying affidavit.  The court heard the group intended to convert the former prison into a new home “for the creative community.”

The judge granted the State the injunction with a one week stay.  He adjourned the matter until Monday next to allow the group to file an affidavit.

“The stay will expire Sunday at midnight and I expect the premises to be vacated by the time the case is heard next Monday,” Judge Hanna said. 

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