Unlock NAMA Unveiled

Date:

Unlock NAMA (UN) hit the headlines in January after occupying a NAMA building in Great Strand Street, Dublin 1. The aim of the occupation was to open a NAMA building to the public for a day and hold a series of talks on the subject. The group, along with around sixty supporters, were eventually evicted by the Gardaí after the intervention of the receiver but that was only the beginning of the campaign.

 

Since January the group has been busy planning its next moves and working towards the campaign’s aims: To access NAMA properties for social and community use, to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding NAMA and to hold the agency to account.

Most of the work so far has centred on the second aim. A poster campaign around the city drew attention to areas with NAMA buildings using the slogan: “Warning: NAMA is operating in this area. May cause ten years of austerity”. Meanwhile the research and education team has been working hard to make information available to UN activists and the general public. To achieve the second goal, a NAMA Wiki is being established and will go live later in the year.

A successful public meeting was held in March with around one hundred people in attendance. These included trade unionists and people from community groups who also see a need for public buildings to be opened up for public use.  Trade unionist Michael Taft and historian Conor McCabe spoke about property speculation and NAMA’s role, while UN’s Mick Byrne spoke about the campaign. UN has since spread its wings and held a public meeting in Limerick at the request of some local people who are interested in engaging in similar activity.

The campaign, however, was never intended to be a small group of activists working on behalf of the public. It believes that communities themselves must play a role in accessing NAMA assets for public use. An outreach campaign is in process that will engage with people in city neighbourhoods where there are buildings on the NAMA enforcement list. The idea is to find out what the needs of these communities are and help organise them to campaign for access to NAMA buildings in their area.

With resistance to the government’s programme of cuts and unjust taxation spreading, UN should be seen as part of a wider movement. If it is successful in organising communities around its first aim, it could grow to become a nationwide campaign. With a number of the group’s activists also involved in the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes and other anti-austerity campaigns, it is clear that many members of UN do not see this as a single issue and the key to success may lie in getting the general public to make the connection. 


From Issue 127 of Ireland's anarchist paper Workers Solidarity  May / June 2012.

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