Squatting, Urban Politics & the Dublin Housing Action Committee: 1968-71

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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:4:{s:4:\"head\";s:0:\"\";s:3:\"css\";a:0:{}s:2:\"js\";a:0:{}s:6:\"output\";s:2429:\"<div class=\"view view-audio view-id-audio view-display-id-block_1 view-dom-id-2\">\n \n \n \n <div class=\"view-content\">\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/radio-solidarity-prog-6-how-i-came-be-involved\" title=\" &quot;How I came to be involved in struggle&quot; - Radio Solidarity Prog. 6\">&quot;How I came to be involved in struggle...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-2 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/freedom-flotilla-and-gaza-blockade-radio-solidarity-prog-5\" title=\"Freedom Flotilla and Gaza Blockade - Radio Solidarity Prog. 5\">Freedom Flotilla and Gaza Blockade - Radio...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/shell-sea-activist-escalating-mayo\" title=\"Interview with Shell to Sea activist on escalating situation in Mayo\">Interview with Shell to Sea activist on...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-4 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/anarchism-bulgaria-history-jack-grancharoff-audio\" title=\"My experience of Anarchism in Bulgaria - 88 yr old exile Jack Grancharoff at Jura books audio\">My experience of Anarchism in Bulgaria - 88 yr...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/why-elections-fail-filters-parliament\" title=\"Why elections fail to bring about real change - the 10 filters that make them ineffective for the radical left\">Why elections fail to bring about real change -...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-6 views-row-even views-row-last\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/solidarity-d-abortion-rights-case\" title=\"Solidarity with &#039;D&#039; in abortion rights case\">Solidarity with &#039;D&#039; in abortion rights...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n </div>\n \n \n \n \n<div class=\"more-link\">\n <a href=\"/anarchism/audio\">\n more </a>\n</div>\n \n \n \n</div> \";}', created = 1566471812, expire = 1566472112, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'audio:block_1:output:47434af4cee8636c550b4af3d4695d8d' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8695\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:59:\"The housing crisis in Ireland - 8 points on the big picture\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:745:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/HousingMarch.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 320px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />The WSM has been having a &#39;big picture&#39; discussion around the housing crisis from which the following points emerged. We are publishing them ahead of the December 1st demonstration in Dublon (14.00 Parnell square).</p>\r\n<p>1. We built our cities and the houses of our cities. They are ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own*.</p>\r\n<p>2. The contemporary crisis of capitalism has made markedly visible the relationship between finance capital and property speculation, between the concentrated money-power of bankers and speculators and the shaping of the built environment in our towns and cities.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1543494053\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8679\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:25:\"DABF Safer spaces policy \";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:593:\"<div>\r\n This policy applies to the bookfair, the fundraising afterparty, the meeting spaces and online spaces. This policy is made in order to create an environment to foster free discussion and sharing of ideas, those engaging in abusive or oppressive behaviour will be asked to leave the space. We encourage all attendees to be aware of this policy, and to report to book-fair volunteers if they observe people engaging in abusive or oppressive behaviour.</div>\r\n<div>\r\n &nbsp;</div>\r\n<div>\r\n We define the following as abusive behaviours which are not tolerated in this space;</div>\r\n<div>\r\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1536841535\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8675\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:47:\"Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2018 T-shirt\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:310:\"<p><strong>Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair t-shirt! [ONLINE SALES ARE NOW CLOSED]</strong><br />\r\n <img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Womens%20tee.jpg\" style=\"width: 300px; height: 300px;\" />&nbsp;&nbsp;<img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Mens%20tee_0.jpg\" style=\"width: 300px; height: 300px;\" /></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1536010979\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"6387\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:97:\"12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair - 14th & 15th September 2018 - Teachers Club 35 Parnell sq & Wynns\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:745:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/DABF_FB_Event.png\" style=\"width: 350px; height: 195px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />The 12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair took place on the 15th September 2018 at the Teachers Club 35 Parnell square and on the evening of the 14th at Wynns hotel. &nbsp;Every year hundreds of people attend the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair for a day of inspiring discussions and the opportunity of meeting lots of other radicals, browsing books and meeting campaigns.</p>\r\n<p>We will be uploading about a dozen audio and video recordings of the panels at the bookfair, follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get notification of new uploads or check&nbsp;<a href=\"https://www.wsm.ie/anarchist-bookfair\">Anarchist bookfair</a></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1528363710\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8642\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:51:\"8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal the hated 8th\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:375:\"<p class=\"rtecenter\"><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Repeal8thWSMbannerthin.jpg\" style=\"width: 650px; height: 307px; margin: 3px;\" /></p>\r\n<p>On May 25th we finally get to vote to Repeal the hated 8th amendment. &nbsp;Here we present the 8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal along with many of the articles we have published on the issue in recent months. &nbsp;</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1527172249\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8639\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:52:\"What Happened When Portugal Decriminalised Abortion?\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:970:\"<p dir=\"ltr\"><strong>With the referendum to repeal the 8th <strong><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/portugal%20abortion%20pic.png\" style=\"height: 341px; width: 400px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px; float: right;\" /></strong>amendment on May 25th drawing nearer, it&rsquo;s with great interest that we look at the experience of other countries which have struggled against an abortion ban like ours, to learn from the lessons of the campaign, and to &lsquo;look into the future&rsquo;, as it were, and see the result of decriminalising abortion. As such, here are some brief notes on Portugal.</strong></p>\r\n<p dir=\"ltr\">On 11th February 2007, in a national referendum, the Portuguese voted in favor of the decriminalization of the &quot;voluntary interruption of the pregnancy&quot; (VGI). It was the end of more than 30 years of struggles, advances and retreats, with many public debates dividing several quarters of Portuguese society.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1525798800\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:1579;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:6;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:0;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1566471812, expire = 1566472112, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'wsm_only:block_1:results:a30adf582d78db7c05cdf6caf5266e75' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:4:{s:4:\"head\";s:0:\"\";s:3:\"css\";a:0:{}s:2:\"js\";a:0:{}s:6:\"output\";s:3201:\"<div class=\"view view-wsm-only view-id-wsm_only view-display-id-block_1 view-dom-id-4\">\n \n \n \n <div class=\"view-content\">\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/housing-crisis-notes-big-picture-ireland\" title=\"The housing crisis in Ireland - 8 points on the big picture\">The housing crisis in Ireland - 8 points on the big...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">The WSM has been having a &#39;big picture&#39; discussion around the housing crisis...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-2 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/dabf-safer-spaces-policy\" title=\"DABF Safer spaces policy \">DABF Safer spaces policy</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">\n This policy applies to the bookfair, the fundraising afterparty, the meeting spaces...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/get-your-dublin-anarchist-bookfair-2018-t-shirt\">Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2018 T-shirt</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair t-shirt! [ONLINE SALES ARE NOW CLOSED]\n &nbsp;&nbsp;</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-4 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/dublin-anarchist-bookfair-latest\" title=\"12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair - 14th &amp; 15th September 2018 - Teachers Club 35 Parnell sq &amp; Wynns\">12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair - 14th &amp; 15th...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">The 12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair took place on the 15th September 2018 at the...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/8-reasons-vote-yes-to-repeal\">8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal the hated 8th</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">\nOn May 25th we finally get to vote to Repeal the hated 8th amendment. &nbsp;Here we...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-6 views-row-even views-row-last\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/what-happened-portugal-decriminalised-abortion-anarchism\">What Happened When Portugal Decriminalised Abortion?</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">With the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25th drawing nearer, it&rsquo;s...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n </div>\n \n \n \n \n<div class=\"more-link\">\n <a href=\"/all\">\n more </a>\n</div>\n \n \n \n</div> \";}', created = 1566471812, expire = 1566472112, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'wsm_only:block_1:output:30e25f9bd85c357eb10c6c886f8c678d' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8692\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:57:\"No LNG terminal on the Shannon - Climate Change & Methane\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:786:\"<p>We interviewed William Hederman, an environmental researcher living in County Clare, about the planned Liquefied Natural Gas terminal on the Shannon. Construction of it will mean Ireland will fail to meet its Climate Change commitments and will instead be tied into pumping out additional Greenhouse Gases for decades. As the LNG will come from the US it will includes fracked gas, a process banned in Ireland that releases three times as much of the very powerful Climate Change gas methane as conventional gas. [<a href=\"https://youtu.be/iO960KeoaHE\">video</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe allow=\"accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture\" allowfullscreen=\"\" frameborder=\"0\" height=\"315\" src=\"https://www.youtube.com/embed/iO960KeoaHE\" width=\"560\"></iframe></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1542897581\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8687\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:30:\"Moral philosophy and abortion \";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1167:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Philosophers.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 309px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />The debate around abortion is sometimes characterised as an opposition between the morals of the church and personal morals. But is this an accurate description? Moral philosophy can broadly be defined as the branch of philosophy that contemplates what is right and wrong. It explores the nature of morality and examines how people should live their lives in relation to others. But a closer look at what characterises moral philosophy leads to the conclusion that while the expression &ldquo;relying on personal morals&rdquo; may come across as a useful shortcut to describe what the pro-choice stance is about, it is also a misuse of moral terminology which has the effect of casting a positive light on moral philosophy, rather than helping us come to terms with the deeply problematic nature of this field. As I hope to make clear, arguments in favour of abortion rights are rooted in anti-authoritarianism whereas moral philosophy can only exist as a rhetorical tool of authoritarianism (even when it is used with good intentions).</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1538146665\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8686\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:88:\"Let Them Drown: Climate Change is War - and Wall Street is Winning audio from #DABF 2018\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:587:\"<p>This audio is an independently organised panel from the 2018 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair on the bleak reality of climate change and its intersections with financial capitalism, state politics and migration. [<a href=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/climate-change-is-war-and-wall-street-is-winning-audio-from-dabf-2018/\">audio</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe frameborder=\"0\" height=\"120\" src=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;light=1&amp;feed=%2Fworkerssolidarity%2Fclimate-change-is-war-and-wall-street-is-winning-audio-from-dabf-2018%2F\" width=\"100%\"></iframe>\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1538128457\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8685\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:99:\"Ending Direct Provision: Migrant Voices speak out about the Asylum process in Ireland at #DABF 2018\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:765:\"<p>People currently in Direct Provision talk about the dehumanising conditions and the large profits being made out of their suffering by the companies that own the direct provision centres. People don&rsquo;t understand why we ended up in Direct Provision, we hope to bring our stories out of the shadows of Irish society. [<a href=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/ending-direct-provision-migrant-voices-speak-out-about-the-asylum-process-in-ireland-at-dabf-2018/\">audio</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe frameborder=\"0\" height=\"120\" src=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;light=1&amp;feed=%2Fworkerssolidarity%2Fending-direct-provision-migrant-voices-speak-out-about-the-asylum-process-in-ireland-at-dabf-2018%2F\" width=\"100%\"></iframe></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1537883979\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8684\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:66:\"How my politics is intersectional - audio from panel at 2018 #DABF\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:634:\"<p>Panel from the 2018 Dublin Anarchist bookfair on the intersection between race politics, class and gender in Ireland with a particular focus on the current housing struggles and the Together for Yes referendum campaign / Repeal movement. [<a href=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/how-my-politics-is-intersectional-panel-at-2018-dublin-anarchist-bookfair/\">audio</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe frameborder=\"0\" height=\"120\" src=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;light=1&amp;feed=%2Fworkerssolidarity%2Fhow-my-politics-is-intersectional-panel-at-2018-dublin-anarchist-bookfair%2F\" width=\"100%\"></iframe></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1537536634\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8683\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:91:\"Rojava: Eyewitness to a women\'s revolution - report back from a May 2018 trip at #DABF 2018\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:597:\"<p>The 12th Dublin anarchist bookfair heard this account from Wendy, a Human Rights &amp; immigration lawyer who visited Rojava in May 2018 as part of a fact finding delegation. 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Date:

The contemporary crisis of capitalism has made markedly visible the relationship between finance capital and property speculation, between the concentrated money-power of bankers and speculators and the shaping of the built environment in our towns and cities.

This relationship has had all manner of disastrous consequences for the working class (inflated rents or mortgages, lower living standards, ghettoisation and suburbanisation etc.) and for the environment (distorted flood plains, abandoned buildings, the prioritisation of car commuting over public transport etc.). Today, it seems that one of the real challenges for the working class is to change that relationship, to claim a ‘right to the city’ for its inhabitants.[1] Dublin, as it turns out, has quite a significant heritage of anti-capitalist urban politics of precisely this sort, notably the Housing Action campaign of the late 1960s. Given that this kind of activism is beginning to re-emerge – Unlock NAMA being a recent example - it might be useful to assess that history.

The political economy of Dublin’s urbanisation
Owing to decades of state-assisted slum landlordism, housing conditions for Dublin’s working class were notoriously bad throughout the early twentieth century. In the 1960s, however, a number of factors combined to make the chronic acute. Austerity cutbacks on housing provision in the 1950s combined with population increases in the 1960s to pressure the state’s available housing resources. (Some 10,000 applicants waited on Dublin Corporation’s ‘approved’ housing list;
an equivalent number waited off it). At the same time, inner-city tenements were collapsing, resulting in numerous fatalities. The Fianna Fáil government’s immediate response was to condemn the buildings and to compel several hundred families to be re-housed in suburbs without social amenities or public transportation. This fitted a broader urbanisation process whereby Dublin’s working class were to be suburbanised and the city centre adapted for offices, retail and car parking spaces. [2] Given the extent of housing waiting lists, however, the government’s attempts to clear tenement residents triggered an intense political campaign. In May, 1967, left-leaning members of Sinn Féin (predecessors of the Workers Party) established the Dublin Housing Action Committee (DHAC), which soon expanded to include a range of left- wing organisations, including the Irish Communist Organisation, Labour party branches, Connolly Youth, trade unionists and a variety of local housing groups such as the Ballymun Tenants’ Association and the Dublin Flat-dwellers’ Association.

The DHAC combined building voluntary networks of the homeless with holding prominent, public demonstrations aimed at publicising demands for social housing. Initially, the DHAC picketed Dublin Corporation meetings to call for more housing.  By September 1968, however, the Committee had moved to direct action, organising homeless families to squat vacant property. Throughout 1968 and 1969 the DHAC contested office developments such as those in Mount Street and helped the homeless resist evictions. Its publication, The Squatter, disseminated information on suitable locations. Similar organising models were adopted by Housing Action Committees in Derry and Cork. [3] The DHAC, like the DUA before them, appealed to a combination of direct action, civil disobedience and moral force. Alternative interpretations of the constitution – notably the priority of the rights of the family over the rights of property – featured prominently in their legal and public defence. When the legal system continued to serve injunctions against the DHAC, it responded by challenging the justice system.

Wave of protest
Of all the DHAC squatters taken to the High Court, the most high profile was perhaps Dennis Dennehy. During the summer of 1968, Dennehy, a meber of the Irish Communist Organisation, squatted with his wife, Máire, and children at 20 Mountjoy Square, the property of landlord, Ivor Underwood. [4] Up to that point, the family had been living in a leaking caravan with the children ‘shivering at the side of the road’.[5] Local residents had previously signed a petition demanding that the square be rebuilt as working-class housing (not as offices or gentrified, single-family dwellings), and marched to the Custom House to raise awareness of the city’s housing shortages. When Underwood sold a number of houses on Mountjoy Square to a development company, slogans denouncing the sale were painted on the walls of his Dalkey residence and his car was damaged by a home-made pipe-bomb.[6] Although the Dennehy family offered to pay rent, the landlord refused and subsequently sought an injunction to restrain them from occupying the premises. Dennehy was subsequently imprisoned for failing to comply with the order.[7]

The imprisonment of DHAC members focussed media attention on the state’s housing policy and ignited popular discontent at housing shortages. When Denis Dennehy went on hunger strike, a wave of protest erupted across Dublin. Public meetings took place outside the GPO where nightly marches would set off for Mountjoy prison to support imprisoned squatters. Hundreds also took part in regular sit-down protests at O’Connell Bridge. Joseph Clarke, a veteran of the 1916 Rising, interrupted State celebrations in the Mansion House commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first Dáil to protest Dennehy’s treatment. As security guards carried Clarke outside, students greeted them with banners proclaiming ‘Evictions: English landlords, 1868; Irish landlords, 1968- 69’. People’s Democracy, en route from Belfast to the GPO as part of its campaign for civil rights for Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, held a meeting of 800 people outside Dennis Dennehy’s squat at 20 Mountjoy Square to protest about the housing situation on both sides of the border. The Dublin Trades Council passed a resolution calling for street demonstrations by trade unionists. Dennehy was eventually released and found housing. Undeterred, he supported a more extensive campaign of squatting.

These protests aimed at foregrounding the judiciary’s complicity with the property-owning class. In September 1969, five members of the DHAC (three women and two men) occupied the Four Courts in Dublin.[8] The group arrived at 11am and announced that they had an appointment to see a senior counsel. When they found the Master’s Court vacant, they barricaded the door with furniture and then painted a sign on a window blind overlooking Inn’s Quay proclaiming: ‘DHAC. We are occupying the Four Courts to demand the release of jailed homeless’. The object of the demonstration was to protest at the imprisonment of Patrick Brady and Patrick Geraghty for refusing to vacate a squat at the Carlton Hotel, Harcourt Street. Seán Dunne, vice-chairman of the DHAC, claimed that Brady and Geraghty were being treated as criminals and that their food had been cut off when they complained about the prison’s ‘atrocious conditions’. At 1pm a force of twenty gardaí arrived, cleared photographers and reporters from the corridors and broke down the barricade.[9]

Despite the Four Courts group making it clear that their protest was peaceful, that no damage had been done to property and that no resistance was contemplated, the gardaí beat and kicked them around the room. Eric Fleming and Isolda Byrne claimed they were forced to sit on the floor while gardaí kicked them in the head and mouth. The DHAC insisted it was not ‘anti-police’, citing as proof their helping a Garda widow threatened with eviction from her home of 35 years.[10]

Repression
Various protests and squats across the city typically met with a violent state response. Hilary Boyle, a seventy year old social justice campaigner, described how the gardaí charged at one such march ‘like mad bulls...They hit out with their batons, they kicked and punched and generally acted as agent provocateurs’. As the conflict in Northern Ireland escalated, the government introduced a raft of ‘law and order’ measures, some of which aimed at breaking the DHAC. The Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Act (1971) changed squatting from a civil to a criminal offence and, furthermore, made its public endorsement illegal. Throughout 1971, a diverse coalition attempted to oppose the legislation, including Citizens for Civil Liberties, the National Association of Tenant Organisations, the Union of Students of Ireland, Labour party branches and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.[11] sixty-five RTÉ workers signed a petition opposing the Bill on the grounds that it permitted one-sided media coverage only. Some forty gardaí prevented a group of protestors from going beyond the gates of Leinster House to lobby politicians directly, the first time in the history of the State that this had occurred.[12]

By this stage, however, the anti-squat legislation was almost unnecessary: Dublin Corporation’s “crowbar brigades” were ejecting people daily without recourse to the law. These evictions came as the DHAC was fracturing under the pressures of its own internal politics, largely centring on how members interpreted and responded to the Northern Ireland conflict. However, in a large number of cases, the DHAC had succeeded in negotiating on behalf of tenants with Dublin Corporation and pri-
vate landlords, a number of whom, unwilling to be publically shamed by protests, accepted squatters as legal tenants.[13] Members of the DHAC identi- fied their primary achievement as one of deeper politicisation. Speaking of the thirty or so families she had encouraged to occupy empty houses to defy the law, Máirín de Búrca observed: ‘They won’t ever lie down again and accept whatever the law says if they think the law is unjust’.

Urban Politics: Then and Now
Urban campaigns adopting popular direct action re-emerged in later years, notably the Dublin Squatters’ Association of the 1970s and the Coalition of Communities against Drugs of the 1980s and 1990s.[14] During the boom years, notwithstanding the persistence of unequal and often dire living conditions, the state succeededin incorporating civil society energies from these urban centres, primarily through social partnership mechanisms. Meanwhile, successive governments encouraged banks, speculators and developers to make out like bandits through ‘public private partnerships’, maximising profits at the expense of inner-city living conditions. Of these PPPs’ spectacular unfairness, the abysmal failure to re-develop O’Devaney Gardens on Dublin’s North Circular Road is emblematic.[15] The contemporary crisis demonstrates how this toxic collaboration operated on an even larger geographical scale.

Following the property crash, the commuter belts of Dublin, Cork and Galway are daily emerging as regions haunted by ghost estates, negative equity and escalating mortgage arrears. In the coming decade, exorcising these demons is likely to be pivotal to all forms of politics in Ireland. Unlike younger, mortgage-less people currently fleeing Ireland in droves, populations in these areas are more closely tied by mortgage and family commitments to the island and its political system.[16]

Admittedly, the demands of private homeowners are not traditionally associated with radical politics. Nevertheless, as David Harvey argues, there are grounds for social movements and progressive groups to take seriously the possibility of contesting the politics of the built environment as opposed to fighting around sectional interests or single issues. If such a politics were to take organisational form, the Dublin Housing Action Committee would approximate a good working model of direct action and co-operative practice that communities, left political parties and non-aligned activists could aspire to.

WORDS: Tom Murray

References:
[1] See David Harvey, 2012, Rebel Cities.
[2] Conor McCabe, 2011, Sins of the Father, pp.31-32.
[3] ‘Gardai hurt in street row in Cork’ in Irish Times, 17.02.1969.
[4] From the 1960s onwards, Ivor Underwood built up a portfolio of Dublin properties, including some 70 Georgian houses, leaving an estate of EUR 69m on his death in the 2000s. ‘Ireland’s Rich List: No. 176’ in Irish Independent, 31.03.2010.
[5] ‘Judge orders family to leave house’ in Irish Times, 26.11.1968
[6] ‘Explosion damages car outside home’ in Irish Times, 09.10.1968.
[7] ‘Landlord seeks to restrain occupiers’ in Irish Times, 23.11.1968. ‘Judge orders family to leave house’ in Irish Times, 26.11.1968.
[8] ‘Protestors forced from Four Courts’ in Irish Times, 26.09.1969.
[9] ‘Housing Group seeks inquiry into police attitude at Four Courts’ in the Irish Times, 27.09.1969.
[10] ‘Housing Group seeks inquiry into police attitude at Four Courts’ in the Irish Times, 27.09.1969.
[11] ‘Demand for Axing Anti-Squat Bill’ in Irish Times, 02.03.1971.
[12] ‘40 gardai curtail Dail lobby’ in Irish Times, 24.02.1971.
[13] Mary Maher, ‘The Making of a Revolutionary’ in Irish Times, 19.01.1970.
[14] Alan MacSimoin on ‘The hidden history of squatting in Ireland’; http://struggle.ws/ws/squat48.html . See Aoifer Fisher, ‘Review of Andre Lyder’s "Pushers Out: The inside story of Dublin's anti-drugs movement". http://struggle. ws/wsm/ws/2005/89/drugs.html
[15] The property developer in this PPP was Ber- nard McNamara. Christine Bohan, ‘After more than 15 years, plans for O’Devaney Gardens officially scrapped’ http://www.thejournal.ie/o-devaney- gardens-scrapped-694646-Dec2012/
[16] Since 2007, Irish property prices have fallen by some 50-70%. As of 2012, Irish citizens carried the largest mortgage debt per head of population in the world while at least 40% of all Irish households were in negative equity and some 10% are in mortgage arrears of more than three months. See also Morgan Kelly ‘If you thought the bank bailout was bad, wait until the mortgage defaults hit home’ in Irish Times, 16.11.2010.


This article is from Irish Anarchist Review no7 - Spring 2013

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