Organisers of the ‘Take Back the City’ protests held ‘anti-eviction’ training tonight around the corner from the group's latest occupation, this time of a building on Belvedere Place on Dublin’s northside.
About 50 people turned up for the event and while members of the press were not admitted entrance to the training in Jigsaw, 10 Belvedere Place, a spokesman for the group – Oisin Coulter (24) - told reporters gathered outside the reasons for running it.
“We want all vacant property to be CPO’d (issued with Compulsory Purchase Orders), to end evictions, particularly the evictions into homelessness which are still widespread and are the reasons we’re running this training.”
Regarding the latest High Court action, which today granted orders requiring protesters to end their occupation of 41 Belvedere Place, Dublin 1, Mr Coulter said that the group intend to defy that order and have measures in place should an eviction of the property take place.
“We will continue our occupation of Belvedere Place,” he said.
“We have resources in place in order to handle a situation in which there would be an eviction of Belvedere Place – those situations have already been planned out – we don’t forsee that this (training) is going to lead directly into that."
Mr Coulter said that tonight’s training was not about the groups' occupations but providing tenants facing eviction, or that may face eviction, with a “practical and legal based peaceful way of resisting illegal evictions, which are widespread, based upon resources that they can go to, be that the courts or the Residential Tenancies Board, and people that they should call and things that they should do.
“We need a mass movement on the streets in order to secure an end to the housing crisis. We aren’t training people in resisting what could quite possibly be, as we saw in North Frederick St, quite a violent eviction by private security.
“This is a tenant-based training, it is a training for people who may well face illegal evictions there’s no secret Facebook groups, there’s no secret guidebook that we’re giving everyone, it’s very practical information a lot of which is already out there in the public domain that we have brought together from our own experience and are giving people so that they know what they should do, who they should call and essentially how to prevent themselves and their families potentially being evicted into homelessness.
However, he said such issues as “what to do if they bring in the heavies or what to do if they break down the door” would be discussed but that the group “we’re not going to go into any more detail than that”
24-year-old Anna Dalton - outlined her reasons for attending the initiative tonight.
“I came to show my support for the ‘Take Back the City’ movement and in particular people being evicted. I just wanted to learn a bit more about what goes on in civil disobedience and in particular occupations because I haven’t done it myself,” she told Independent.ie.
Anna said that the actions of the gardai and an unknown group of masked ‘heavies’ last week, who evicted members of the group from a property on North Fredericks Street, were “absolutely atrocious” and that she was “shocked” by their behaviour.
“It’s no wonder people are angry,” she said, adding that she would be interested in occupying a building herself but has not yet done so.
These sentiments were echoed by Shane (40), a local resident who said he was there to get involved.
“I’d be broadly supportive of the people who have been active so far, I haven’t been involved in any of the occupations myself, but I have been dropping down cups of tea and helping out people.”
Shane said that he thought the handling of the North Frederick St eviction by the gardai was a “very deliberate effort to intimidate and to provoke and I think it’s completely unreasonable on their part.”
While 21-year-old Thomas White said he was there because the “housing crisis is absolutely ridiculous. The fact that we have 10,000 people homeless is beyond ridiculous and people need houses and homes. This movement is trying to fight back against the complete lack of action by the government and the garda crackdown has been horrendous.”
Gardai came under severe criticism last week for their handling of the North Frederick Street eviction, leading to new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris releasing statement saying that the wearing of fire-proof hoods by members of the force was “not correct”.