Friday 22 June 2018

We're not squatters, says 'collective' fighting legal battle over three houses

The house at the Grangegorman squat. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The house at the Grangegorman squat. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ryan Nugent

Residents of buildings at the centre of a High Court battle believe they can hold on to the premises despite claims they are squatting.

The site in Grangegorman, Dublin, features a host of colourful installations including a purpose-built home made from scratch using recycled materials.

There is also a "cinema" area with big screen for projected films, a "circus" and a giant robot sculpture as well as a garden area.

Receiver Luke Charleton is expected to make an application seeking contempt of court orders against those in occupation.

An appeal against a March High Court decision, ordering the premises be vacated, is listed for May 14 in the Court of Appeal.

Last March, the court ordered the properties at Lower Grangegorman and North Brunswick Street be vacated by last Monday.

This was so that Mr Charleton, who was appointed by NAMA, could sell them to meet an unpaid debt of €21.9m owed by businessman Paschal Conroy.

Three men - Stephen Bedford, James Sutherland and Gréum Ná Hearadh - had appeared in court to oppose the receiver's application.

But following a hearing, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ordered that the three, and all others with notice of the orders, vacate the buildings by May 4.

When the case returned before the judge yesterday, he was told by Graham O'Doherty, solicitor for the receiver, that there were still a number of people in the property.

The solicitor also said Mr Sutherland had lodged an appeal, which is listed for May 14. But a stay on the order pending the outcome of the appeal had not been obtained, he said.

Mr O'Doherty said he would be bringing a further application arising out of the alleged failure to vacate the premises.

The judge said he would first have to apply to the court for permission to bring such an application at short notice.

That would provide an opportunity over the next two or three days for negotiations.

It had been home, for some people, for two years. It was argued that by granting the receiver's application, a number of people will be homeless.

Paul Gillett, head of the Grangegorman Community Collective (GCC), believes they can hold onto the premises because of the work they've done and the backing of the community.

Visitors notice how warm the rooms are compared to the outside.

"It's heated by biomass underfloor," Mr Gillett explained.

The GCC is made up of working and non-working residents and insist that they're not just sitting around taking in social welfare payments.

"Does it look like we've been doing nothing? Look at this place," said Paddy O'Kearney.

There are now only 25 residents staying within the three homes.

Irish Independent

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