Grangegorman resists Eviction

Date:

We covered the attempted eviction of the squatted complex at Grangegorman during the week of via our new Facebook page, youtube and Twitter.  

For those not familar with Dublin the attempted eviction is happening just 100m north of Smithfield Square.  The complex consists of a mix of residentical, industrial & commercial premises that had been left derlict for up to 15 years.  There had been a couple of eviction scares previously but at 6.30am on the morning of Monday 23rd March the residents were suddenly worken by the sound of a gang of over 30 men smashing their way into the compound and in at least one case into their houses.  

One of our reporters was awoke shortly afterwards to a text message sayiong this was happening and they made their way down, the coverage that follows is a result of their work and the work of other WSM reporters.  We've edited the updates together and improved their readibility.

The space

Grangegorman is a district in Dublin's north west inner city where a large and very grim mental health facility was located but at the time of writing it had been long abandoned and then developed as the site of a new college.  Speculators had bought up larges areas of both housing and retail space in the previous decades and allowed it to lie derelict, persumably waiting for the student influx once the new college opened.

The Grangegorman complex referred to here is at the southern end of this area, east of Lr Grangegorman and North of Brunswick st.  There are 3 red brick houses where this site meets Grangegorman, these appear to have been left empty for about 15 years before being occupied about 18 monts before the eviction. The Brunswick street side is the old Doors & Floors complex, empty since 2008. Between the two are 4 large warehouses, a massive concrete yard, a couple of smaller yards, two office buildings and a shopfront on Brunswick street.

Jenny one of the residents told us "I emigrated to oz but it didn't work out so I came back. When I came home I had no money and was sleeping on couches for a month and, had I not been able to squat I would probably still be doing just that because the price of rent is too high"

Prior to the eviction attempt one of the office spaces on Brusnwick st had been turned into a house and social area, 'Cafe Smash' and the shop front on the other side of the gate was also being turned into a home.  Inside the Doors & Floors warehouse a house has also been built from wood and the concrete yards have been turned into community gardens.

The smaller of the warehouses and the remaining office complex were being used as art spaces and for community events.  At the time of the eviction 27 people lived in these buildings.

As Nora one supporter of the residents pointed out "The people living there have renovated the entire place,maintained vegetable patches,put on free poetry and performance nights,provided free housing for people who would otherwise be homeless, and remind us that what we need are homes not dereliction. There are over 300,000 empty spaces in Ireland that should be utilized to provide housing and autonomous social spaces"

This section of the residents statement outlined the sort of things that used to happen in the communal areas of the space prior to the eviction attempt 

ACTIVITIES AT GRANGEGORMAN:
* Home and living space for about 30, mostly young people, who can no longer afford to rent in Dublin.
* A community garden that was built and is worked on together by residents of the space and local families from the nearby school.
* ‘Words in the Warehouse’, a semi-regular spoken-word, music and poetry night lit by candles in the warehouse, attended by about 100 people.
* ‘Headspace’, a converted office space with art studios, a soundproof music practice space and regular art exhibitions.
* Circus skills practice: the high ceilings of the warehouses allow for aerial silks and other circus and acrobatics performance arts to be practised.
* A ‘free shop’, where people can bring unused clothes and other items and anybody can take whatever they want free of charge.
* A community kitchen and seating area that is used by all users of the space, resident and non-resident alike.
All these activities and more are able to run completely free of charge because of the squatted nature of the space.

As many as 250,000 people saw the news we reported via our two Facebook pages.  A number of mainsream media sources republished our videos including Al Jazerra, we have no way of knowing how many saw those.  Hundreds if not thousands of people posted comments on our stories, in one case we exposed one of the commentators ('Steven') as a shell account being used by the other side to spread dis infomation and the account was then deleted.  In another a reasonably well know if idiotic 'shock jock' repeatedly tried to troll the comments from his own personal account.


Our coverage starts Monday 23rd March

 

Around 7.25am - Photo of security with "A massive eviction is underway in Dublin. It is at the complex of occupied houses and former factory spaces in Grangegorman. See the map in the comments

Reports indicate that at 7am in the morning a very large number of private security angle grinder their way through one of the metal gates, invaded the area en massed and are erecting barriers (pictured) inside and trying to evict the occupants.

One of the people inside told us "They entered my house illegally and were fucking me around when I was asking for a search warrant and they said there was one but then I asked the sergeant and he said he didn't have one

People are asked to make their way to the area, its on the street behind the Cobblestone pub at the top of the Smithfield square"

about 8.30 - our 1st reporter on scene.  Shortly after publishing the above report our photograoher asked the residents of Cafe Smash to take some still images of the inside of their home and quickly added a commentary (in the toilets of Cafe Smash) in order to post this video update.

8.58am - video clip, Text - Eviction resistance underway in Grangegorman - the documents are not for the house being protected, the Garda have been told that several times.
Garda have produced batons & pepper spray to threaten the people defending their home despite being made aware the eviction has no legal basis. If you can come down to Grangegorman to bear witness

With other WSM reporters on the way our first person on the scene left for work after interviewing one of the residents about what had just happened.  They also interviewed one of the residents who understood the legal requirements for eviction and used the images & video captured to produce the video update embedded below.  This was seen by about 20,000 people on Facebook (and reached 54,000) but in addition the youtube version which got another 10k views was downloaded and republished by a number of media sources. (Facebook version)

9.12 -  Video with Grangegorman eviction resistance - in a new development 5 of the defenders managed to sneak around the back and gain access to the building being sealed off.

It looks like this is going to go on all day and the legal paperwork is incorrect, actually almost non existent. This has been clearly explained to the Garda present but they are continuing to assist a private security company involved in trying to use physical force to remove people from their homes

9.49 - Photo - One of the residents explaining to the Garda & private security why the eviction by brute force they are attempting is not legal. Indeed that the sparse paperwork isn't enough for any eviction and doesn't even cover that address


The residents statement released the following day described the legal situation as they understood it as follows

* Generally, if somebody owns a property and they are not in possession of it, and it is being occupied by other people, they need to take the occupants to court and get an ejectment order against them.

* There was no court order against the occupation of the properties and they have never been taken to court about it.

* The evicters were not bailiffs or sheriffs appointed by a court, but a private security company.

* The letter received by occupants was from Luke Charleton and simply explained that he had been appointed statutory receiver of the properties by NAMA, and had authorised Aidan Devlin of LAS Group to act as an agent on his behalf.

* It also contained a copy of the original deed of appointment by NAMA from three years ago.

* There is nothing in the letter received by the occupants to suggest that the eviction was legal or in any way authorised by a court.


 

Interviews and footage from the attempted eviction of Grangegorman occupied complex 

Our photographer was woken this morning by a text message telling him friends were getting evicted. So he grabbed his cameras, got down to the eviction and recorded this shocking footage and interviews that show a complete disregard for the people whose homes were under attack by both the Garda and private security.

The people living here mostly have low paid insecure jobs. They don't have friends in high places. Contrast what you are about to see and hear with the very different treatment of the 'bog standard house' at Gorse Hill. And what you will see was recorded with the Garda and security knowing they were being recorded, imagine their behaviour if the cameras were not there.

The current situation is that the bailiffs have been held to the area they fenced off visible in the video, two people were living in the building in the centre of this, they are now homeless. The electricity has been cut off to the four other buildings that were people's houses. Welcome to Ireland 2015


12.00 - Things have calmed down for the moment but we'd imagine additional people visiting would be a significant moral boost to those whose homes are under threat

12.05 - This is the paperwork the bullies had with them, the dwelling in this video are not the ones named, they are not even on the same street!

12.47 - We are hearing that the residents have managed to get a chain on the huge gate and lock it. 6 hours after this forceful eviction started they are still holding out and a lot more people are now arriving down there

Lunchtime, photo showing residents sitting on gate to prevent it use  - Grangegorman éviction resistance is still underway with more people arriving down to support all the time.

The residents have managed to get a chain on and lock this huge gate limiting the access bailiffs* have to the site. However the electricity has been cut off to their houses so they are asking that people bring down hot food if they can. Raingear and warm clothes are also sought so that people can maintain the roof and gate top occupations.

All sorts of support are welcome, even simply turning up and letting the Garda and bailiffs know that their actions are being monitored.

* - we used the term baliffs here because of its historical association with evictions but in fact the private security and Garda present were not baliffs. As we explained at the time "bailiffs like sherifs are a very defined and limited legal role, apparently there are only 2 actual bailiffs in Dublin. But on the other hand in common usage its a term that has important historical echoes here that alternatives like 'security' lack which is why we've been using it."

A video comment posted to that story showed what appeared to be the guy running the eviction justifying his attempt to do so without an actual eviction order, we reposted that with "This appears to be the property speculator more or less bragging he has got away with evicting them without having an eviction order (with the aid of the Garda) and refusing to return the property in the building."

13.51 - Grangegorman Eviction resistors have set up their own Facebook page - give it a follow at https://www.facebook.com/resistgg

At this point the pro property speculators trolls had started to post hostile comments, we responded

The nature of evictions is that the banks / property speculators always claim the people they are turing out on the streets 'aren't supposed to be there'. And you either choose one side or another - we are with those peoples right to stay in their homes.

Most homes in Ireland are owned by banks rather than people, NAMA claim to own this complex as far as we know but the buildings it contains have been abandoned for up to 15 years. About a year ago people began to occupy the houses, fix them up and bring them back into use. In our opinion that makes them the owners

14.48 - Photo of pizza with We decided to respond to the appeal from those resisting eviction today in Grangegorman for warm food by ordering them some pizza*. We'd encourage you to do likewise. Apart from anything else after a morning of being subject to brutality by Garda and bailiffs ( see https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=347131162142993 ) we hope it helped lighten the mood.

We reproduce below the short statement the Grangegorman residents have released on todays events. It's likely they will be looking for solidarity in the days to come.

 

PRESS RELEASE
At 6.30 am this morning, around 30 workers broke into a squatted complex on the lower Grangegorman Road that is home to about 30 people. (The space is home to a flourishing community with homes, community gardens and a strong cultural base; including art exhibitions, poetry nights, a circus space and a community kitchen.)

Although no court order had been issued to residents, the gardai assisting in the eviction. One of the houses in the complex has been fenced off by workers, illegally imprisioning some of the residents.

This is yet another example of how the government would prefer empty buildings to stay empty, while the number of families on the streets increases daily. So far the eviction is being resisted by the community.
-----

* When protesters occupied the capital building in the US state of Wisconsin in 2011 and likewise appealed for food protesters in Cairo Egypt who had been occupying Tahir square ordered pizza for them. The Grangegorman residents had been rousted out of their bed by a massive gang of men descending on them and using violence against them at 7am.
Which meant they missed breakfast. Pizza seemed like the right thing to do.

20.30 - Photo of injuries with We've just heard that the bailiffs trying to evict the people living in the Grangegorman complex have attacked the defenders. They have been trying to evict people from their homes since 7am when they broke through the gates using angle grinders and assaulted the residents.

Earlier today the residents managed to get the gates locked again. The gates are still locked shut trapping the bailiffs vans inside the yard, they can walk out at any time they just can't remove their vehicles.

There was a change of shift of the bailiffs. The new bailiffs arriving refused to identify what company they were working for and were considerably more aggressive with people.

6-8 Bailiffs started pulling people off the gate which is 4m high, putting peoples lives at risk. One person stood in front of them, he was attacked by several bailiffs who knocked him to the ground and tried to drag him out of sight. As people feared what might happen if he was removed from view several people came to his defence resulting in a fraca. A couple of people were injured by being hit on the head by rocks thrown by security at this point.

More garda have now arrived on the scene and there is a tense standoff. People have been asked to go down and add to the numbers to de escalate the confrontation the bailiffs are creating. Three people are still on the gate and a number of people are on the streets outside.

Meanwhile the illegal nature of this mornings eviction and the fact that the Garda present continued to co-operated and indeed threaten people long after this was made clear to them has started to attract international attention. Al Jazerra have even carried an item on the standoff - see http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201503231341-0024640

Update as of 21.31 - there people still on gates, bailiffs on other side are trying to hit them with weapons, we think metal poles but its hard to the from the street side. Two more people still on the walls nearby. Garda allowing all this to happen in front of them

21.34 update - bailiffs got gate open and drove a van out, into and then over people standing in the way before protesters brought it to a stop. People could well have been killed. Still no Garda intervention

21.45 Update - Photo of van driven into people with Baliffs at the attempted eviction of Grangegorman have turned very violent. Two of the residents were injured by rocks thrown at them, others attacked by metal bars.

A few minutes ago the bailiffs drove a van into the defenders with people being knocked over. People were being dragged under and could have been killed but the van was brought to a halt by protesters.

Someone on the scene said "Heavies just used a van to pull open 15foot gate with people on top of it. One person fell after being hit on the legs with an iron bar. They rammed into a group of protesters with the van who were sitting on the road. 2 people were run over. We begged the guards to stop them. They did nothing. Some video footage was destroyed on site. People are still resisting."

It appears at around this time one of the protesters was knocked off a wall and is now unconscious. One person was also ran over by the van and has a leg injury. Two fire brigade and an ambulance are now on the scene. One of the injuries appears to be serious

Garda are present but have taken no action against this thuggery. Support is wanted.

 

Update 21.55 - Unconscious person has regained consciousness and had been taken into ambulance. About 20 people now sitting in front of van at the gates

 22.08 - people sitting in front of van that ran over resident to prevent it leaving the scene of the accident - Public Order Unit said to be on way from Bridewell

22.21 Reposted photo from slightly earlier via Julian Fitzsimons on Twitter @fitzsij The moment an eviction contractor smashes a resident's leg with a metal bar in #Grangegorman

22.44 - One of injured residents has broken leg, reports say many people living in the area have now come out in support

22.55 We understand all cops and security have now left the site, the occupants seem to now have regained control of the entire site - a victory but at the cost of the injuries that have been received

Around 23.15 Photo of residents back on the site around bonfire with "Thanks to everyone who has been following out updates from the now successful resistance to the eviction in Grangegorman today.

In the last few minutes the Garda negotiated for the baliffs who had injured at least two protesters to be allowed to leave the scene. At that point all the Garda and bailiffs drove off allowing the residents to reoccupy all the complex.

At this time we don't know what damage was caused by the eviction attempt or when another attempt might be made. It could be as early as tomorrow morning. What is clear is that Garda not only facilitated but participated in an illegal physical force eviction attempt, allowed bailiffs to attempt to terrorise and them assault residents for hours and stood by when residents were beaten with bars and ran over by a van."

Grangegoman Eviction - report from after baliffs chased off 

Interview with a Grangegorman resident shortly after their successful resistance to the attempt to evict them yesterday. Details what happened from when the bailiffs started attacking the defenders with poles, knocked them off the gate and then drove a van into them.

This level of escalation turned out to be too much even for the Garda who finally intervened to bring the non court mandated eviction to a halt. A deal was negotiated by which all the bailiffs, their vehicles and the construction workers would leave the site.

The resident also talks about how uplifting all the solidarity they received from other people living in the area was, which even included small businesses and social justice organisations that help the homeless.

Day 2 24th March

6.22am - posted link to video showing van driving into crowd that was subsequently made private on Youtube but later published on Irish Times site with - Footage of bailiffs driving van into & over residents of Grangegorman last night. This incident occurred after a long day that started with dozens of men invading people's homes at 6.39am to carry out a physical force eviction without a court eviction order.

Garda took part in this offensive even after they were told the papers they had been shown were not an eviction order. Later in the day bailiffs attacked residents with iron bars & rocks resulting in injuries, all before this final incident last night.

It was only after this incident that the bailiffs finally abandoned the eviction attempt in the face of a huge angry mobilisation from people living in the area.

7.50 This is a thank you statement from Grangegorman residents to everyone who supported them yesterday
"We would like to say a massive thank you to all the people, local businesses and voluntary organisations who have showed us support, love and solidarity in the struggle to protect our home. With over 100 people on the streets at night resisting alongside us, we won! We have never felt so strong. The complex remains in our control and we are going to fight for it with all we've got. The future is uncertain, so please continue to stand with us and resist this eviction."

About 8am - Photo of banners on the gates with We are now at Grangegorman, the exterior has been decorated with signs & banners letting people know what's up.

Typing this from inside the compound at the site we published the video of people being trapped between the fences. Right now though it's quiet except for the sound of traffic & birdsong from the long abandoned werehouses. Beside me some people who have come down to support are having a chat over coffee about what to expect. Inside the legal observers are getting prepared. And behind me are the gardens destroyed by the bailiffs in the initial assault.

Residents are encouraging people who support them to come down here and to the courts

9.15 - They have now set up an info table at this gate so if you are in the area do call by and wish them well. If you are not sure about their stance remember they have been assaulted and are likely to be thrown out in the streets so be respectful of the fact it's not an abstract debate for them

Evening - "We've caught sight (24 March) of the documents for the High Court hearing against the Grangegorman residents tomorrow and we're surprized to see we (ie our new page Solidarity Times) get a prominent mention" Read On

Occupied Grangegorman - update from Weds 25th March, D3

7.09 - With link to new Dublin Activist Trauma page - Ahead of todays expected eviction resistance in Grangegorman another local project is opening its space to allow the residents and their supports take a break from the stress.

Remember that a large number of them were violently assaulted on Monday, apart from the physical harm caused there is also psychological trauma from such experiences as anyone who has suffer a violent crime can testify. 40 men mounting a home invasion at 6.30am and assaulting anyone who resists is a deeply unpleasant experience on every level to go through.

8.25 - Photo of banner on gates with - We are now at Grangegorman, the exterior has been decorated with signs & banners letting people know what's up.

Typing this from inside the compound at the site we published the video of people being trapped between the fences. Right now though it's quiet except for the sound of traffic & birdsong from the long abandoned werehouses. Beside me some people who have come down to support are having a chat over coffee about what to expect. Inside the legal observers are getting prepared.

And behind me are the gardens destroyed by the bailiffs in the initial assault.

Residents are encouraging people who support them to come down here and to the courts

9.18 They have now set up an info table at this gate so if you are in the area do call by and wish them well. If you are not sure about their stance remember they have been assaulted and are likely to be thrown out in the streets so be respectful of the fact it's not an abstract debate for them

 

Video report from the Grangegorman occupied complex morning of 25th March where after the residents suffered home invasions and assaults at the hands of 40+ Garda & bailiffs and their henchmen on Monday the residents are now being dragged into the High Court.

Some 30 people stand to be thrown on the streets, they are determined to resist. They now have an information stand at the gate and are appealing for things like food, toilet paper, first aid supplies and cash for needed supplies.

10.58 High court has delayed hearing to give Grangegorman residents 24 hours to get legal aid against eviction injunction hearing

Lunchtime.  The local council workers turn up with a fried breakfast (see Solidarity starts with a Fry ) for the residents and shortly after that the firebrigade arrived with a pot of soup.

15.30 Photo of squatter flag being raised - "The good news from the Grangegorman occupied complex is that they have won 24 hours to find legal a̶i̶d̶ advice before the High Court hears the injunction which would throw 27 people onto the streets.

There was a lot of interest this morning at the info table on Brunswick street where people on their way to work or dropping their kids to the local schools stopped for a chat. Many people are understandably curious about the complex, having only known it before it was occupied as a local nuisance in terms of anti-social drug use (discarded needles etc) and in its abandoned state a hazard for their kids.

A few minutes ago the international squatter flag was hung over the scene of the incident on Monday when security, watched by Garda drove a van into a mixed group of residents of the complex and other locals who had turned out to support them.

From wikipedia "Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land and/or a building – usually residential – that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use.

Author Robert Neuwirth suggests that there are one billion squatters globally, that is, about one in every seven people on the planet. Yet, according to Kesia Reeve, "squatting is largely absent from policy and academic debate and is rarely conceptualised, as a problem, as a symptom, or as a social or housing movement."

Squatting by necessity is in itself a political issue, therefore also a "statement" or rather a 'response' to the political systems causing it. During the period of global recession and increased housing foreclosures in the 2000s, squatting became far more prevalent in Western, developed nations. In some cases, need-based and politically motivated squatting go hand in hand. According to Dr. Kesia Reeve, who specialises in housing research, "in the context of adverse housing circumstances, limited housing opportunity and frustrated expectations, squatters effectively remove themselves from and defy the norms of traditional channels of housing consumption and tenure power relations, bypassing the 'rules' of welfare provision." In effect, beleaguered citizens living in a welfare state that cannot provide them with adequate resources take action into their own hands and squat."

The latest update from the occupants is below
"Here's a list of things we need to maintain the occupation of the space and be fully prepared for any sort of interactions with authorities:

-Climbing gear
-bedding/sleeping bags
-ropes/strings
-food/snacks/tea/coffee...
-water
-spraypaint
-helmets/hardhats
-swimming goggles
-first aid supplies,...

Please spread the word about what's happening and come down anytime today and/or tomorrow from 9am. If you have a camera/camera phone to record anything that would happen, please bring it with you. If you happen to have any recordings or photos from the previous encounters with the Security Company and Gards from Monday, please send it to us at grangegormansquat@gmail.com!!

Thanks for all the support we've received so far and please continue to support us as there is a long struggle ahead.

Fuck NAMA, take the city back!""

16.28 - A Giant Robot appears guarding the gates

19.24 - Grangegorman residents are in the High Court tomorrow morning. They are asking people who support them to gather at Grangegorman from 8am tomorrow morning.

26th March

Morning "The residents of Grangegorman are once more in the High Court this morning as what is in effect NAMA attempt to get them thrown out of their homes. NAMA own the loans on the site, their receivers are trying to get procession not in order to build homes or a community centre but in order to be able to sell it. Parts of this particular site have been lying derelict for about 15 years as part of the speculative cycle of the property millionaires. If the residents are evicted who knows how many more years that may continue." Read on at Grangegorman has nothing in common with Gorse Hill

Around 16.00 - Photo of Our Squat is Our Home: We are not leaving banner with "Good news from Grangegorman eviction resistance. Another 24 hour delay as the High Court case has been carried over until 3pm tomorrow.

Lots and lots of families from the area have been visiting the complex today. If you are near by & haven't had a chance this evening and tomorrow may be your last chance for a while to visit without having to get through a garda cordon."

Friday 27th March

Morning - Photo of robot guarding gates with "Welcome to day 5 of our Grangegorman eviction resistance coverage. This time Monday morning it looked like the residents would be turfed out on the street within hours, from 5 days later they have demonstrated the value of resistance.

We've managed to have activist reporters in site almost continuously during the days since. Activist because we certainly have a side in this struggle and it's not that of the speculators who want the site to play Monopoly with. As their court documents make clear they have no intention of developing the site, they just want total control of it so they can sell it yet again. Who knows how many years of speculation & dereliction lie in that future path.

The other path is a continuation of the space as is, providing homes for people who would otherwise have none, gardens in an area of the city without green space, art & other creative community spaces in a city that normally only makes these available to those with plenty of hard cash.

What has struck all our reporters is the strong & developing sense of community spirit that the resistance is developing. Parents are calling in with their young kids on the way back from school, older teenagers have been bring their parents down. Everyone is very clear as to which side there are on, and it's not the speculators."

Around lunchtime - photo of petition from local school with "In what is possibly cuteness overload the Resist Grangegorman's Eviction page just posted this petition to defend the space that the local educate together 6th form class did for them.

There has been a huge amount of active support from the local community over the days since the violent eviction attempt. A very large number of people have visited, lots of food has been donated and a fair bit of formal and informal organisational support has been offered.

Certainly more than enough to challenge the idea that people in Ireland are incapable of understanding the different between a family home and a huge parcel of land assembled by a speculator because we are all supposed to be property obsessed. Outside of comments on the journal that sort of opposition is simply not present on the streets.

Along with the massive water charges opposition and the NCAD student occupation that support is another reason for those whose interests are in keeping things as they are to lose some sleep.

The Times They May Be a Changing"

About 16.45 - Judge has granted injunction against Grangegorman residents but not to be executed until May 4th - this is a longer delay than expected so good news

We understand it has been granted against anyone on the site and not just the two people in court from the complex

Celebrations in progress inside & outside Grangegorman as residents feared a massive attack tonight & being on the streets tomorrow.  (Explanation of why this result was seen as a victory)

31st March update

We've just heard that some sort of private security are outside the Grangegorman complex attaching the court injunction to the outer gates.

When one of the residents attempted to photograph this a security man tried to knock her camera out of her hand, missed and hit her in the face.

This isn't an eviction attempt but does demonstrate that they are continuing to use violence & intimidation against the residents. The intention may have been to smash the camera rather than hit her in the face but the first is no more acceptable than the second.

We'd presume the reason for attaching the notices is so that they can claim after the 4th May in court that everyone would be aware of then existence of the injunction.

 

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