Families occupy Nama site to demand social housing

Ruth Coppinger (4th from left) and Anti Austerity Alliance group occupying a house in new estate Diswellstown Manor currently under construction

Robin Schiller

MORE than 20 people, including socialist TD Ruth Coppinger, occupied a Nama-controlled property in west Dublin to raise awareness of the housing crisis.

The group entered the building in the Diswellstown Manor estate in the early hours of yesterday morning, and stated their intentions were to remain overnight, calling for the "acute" crisis to be resolved by providing more council houses.

Gardai arrived on the scene in the afternoon and warned the group they were trespassing on private property.

The front door of the occupied home was also removed by builders at approximately 3pm to allow gardai gain access.

Children were present earlier during the occupation, but left the site during the afternoon.


Ms Coppinger said that the decision to occupy the house arose at an "angry" public meeting last week.

"We decided to take action in order to highlight the fact that there are 120 new houses being built, which is the number of people living in emergency accommodation in west Dublin," Ms Coppinger told the Herald.

"People here have been in hotels for 10 and 12 months, and basically once you're in emergency accommodation no one cares, so Nama must be made accountable to resolve the housing crisis," she added.

Melissa Rothwell (29), who is pregnant and has been living in a single hotel room with her partner and two young children for the last eight months, described the situation as a "nightmare".

"We're a normal working family. People who are working can still be made homeless, which shows it can really happen to anyone.

"We never expected this to happen, we're staying in one room with my partner and my two young children (aged three and five)," she said.

"We've been told that we may not even have another place before I give birth in February, so it could end up meaning five of us, including a newborn, are living in a single room, and it's an absolute nightmare for all of us.


"I'll sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag on the building site if I have to tonight to make a stand," she added.

A Nama spokesman last night said that a number of units in the development will be delivered for social housing in line with planning.

"Overall, Nama has so far delivered 1,518 social houses across 150 individual projects... The agency has also committed to support the provision of 4,500 houses of all types before the end of next year to help alleviate the housing problem," he added.