Over the previous year myself and a small number of comrades have been involved in housing activism in Dublin, specifically in relation using squatting or using occupation as a tactic. This is meant to be a short piece on some of the lessons learnt to inform activists who wish to get involved in this sort activity.
At the start of our career as squatter/housing activists over a year ago occupying buildings seemed like the primary logical option available to us. Not only was it an available and sensible form of direct action, which informed by our Social Anarchist politics was invariable the best and most effective tactic to use, it was also an easy way to alleviate the housing crisis.
Two weeks ago, at the judge’s discretion, the high court issued an injunction to make the occupation of the Barricade Inn illegal, coming into effect from tomorrow. It seems this may bring an end to one of the most ambitious projects the anarchist squatter movement has yet attempted. A radical, anti-capitalist social centre in the heart of Dublin, open to the public and right next to one of the city's main thoroughfares. A valuable resource for activists to organise and engage with the public. A focal point for outreach, with the hope of spreading the dreams and ideals of anarchism that were its inspiration.
Myself and some comrades were approached by a young mother from Coolock that recently became homeless. The woman and her children became homeless a few weeks previous. While her kids are in school during the day the mother either walks the streets or calls into friends or family member’s homes. When school has ended for the day they have to rely on family and friends to let them stay in their homes. Sometimes the mother has to split her children up so that she’d definitely have a roof over all her kid’s heads for the night.
She had to leave the house she was renting because of the condition the house was in. She went to Dublin City Council (DCC) and because of the advice given to her by the council she registered herself as being homeless. She asked the council to be put up in one of the state’s homeless hostels or money for a hotel room or a B&B. She was told there is no more spaces left in the hostels, but the council would give her money for a hotel room or B&B. The young mother spent days then weeks trying to get a room in a hotel or B&B that would be suitable for her and her children, but to no avail. She had to survive from the good will of her friends and family.
“Ours is a society in which, in every field, one group of people makes decisions, exercise control, limits choices, while the great majority have to accept these decisions, submit to this control and act within the limits of these externally imposed choices. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of housing: one of those basic human needs which throughout history and all over the world people have satisfied as well as they could for themselves, using the materials what were at hand and their own, and their neighbors labor. The marvelously resourceful anonymous vernacular architecture of every part of the globe is a testimony to their skill, using timber, straw, grass, leaves, hides, stone, clay, bone, earth, mud sand even snow. Consider the igloo: maximum enclosure of space with minimum of labor. Cost of materials and transportation, nil. And all made of water. Nowadays, of course, the Eskimos live on welfare handouts in little northern slums. Man, as Habraken says “no longer houses himself: he is housed” – Colin Ward
The Barricade Inn was a squatted social centre in the centre of Dublin. During the peak of its activity over the summer of 2015 hundreds of people were involved in putting on events in the space that thousands of people attended. In this audio we talk to three WSM members who were involved in opening up and running The Barricade about what happened there and what lessons they drew from the experience.
The Barricade Inn is up in the High Court today as a legal firm seek to evict one of the most interesting spaces to grace Dublin city centre in the last months. Whether the courts find for a group of people with no funds or a law company will tell you a lot about the sort of country you live in. A country where thousands are homeless while 300,000 homes lie empty. The video was shot outside yesterday evening as we helped to move materials inside to a secure location ahead of the court hearing. The statement that follows was released by The Barricade Inn yesterday.
An interview with a couple of the people involved in The Barricade Inn, the squatted social centre on Parnell street, including a video tour of the interior.
Right in the centre of Dublin city a new squatted anarchist social centre is up and running and open to all. It's in a reclaimed building at 77 Parnell St that was formerly Nearys hotel, which had been left unused for many years, abandoned and left to slowly fall to ruin.