The Firehouse Squat on Gardiner place prior to eviction - video report


About 10 days ago three van loads of riot cops arrived at the door to No 2 Gardiner Place at around 9am,  There they formed a Roman style tortoise shell shield formation and proceeded to start to batter the door down.  Once in they stormed through the building, arresting the residents and dragged them down to the High Court for an eviction / injunction hearing at which they were forced to agree not to try and re-enter the house.  No media outlet deemed any of this worthy of coverage.

Solidarity Times had been in the building the previous week, shooting some video in anticipation of a campaign in opposition to the eviction.  We’re assembled a video report on the space from that footage as yet another example of the vast amount of empty housing that is around even inner city Dublin. Homelessness is not caused by a lack of usable buildings but by deliberately leaving such buildings empty and boarded up in order to create the scarcity that is seeing rent hikes and a new property bubble.

Rough transcription of video
This is the story of another occupied house or squat in central Dublin at Gardiner Place just off Parnell Square

We first saw it a couple of weeks back and we called back the following day to find out what the story was. You'll find abandoned buildings like this all over the city they are normally easy enough to spot because they have been boarded up. Because this one had been occupied the inhabitants had already removed some of the shuttering from so there is daylight.

The place was nicknamed the Firehouse Squat because a couple of years previously there had been a fire that had gutted one of the rooms on the ground floor and done smoke damage to almost had gutted one of the rooms on the ground floor and don't smoke damage to almost the entire ground floor. As you went up to thought the house though the conditions improved and it turned out to be relatively habitable.  However the ground floor and indeed the entire house had been left abandoned for quite some considerable amount of time-  as far as we were able to tell since the previous tenants had been evicted by the landlord.

The problem with that though is it turned out there was still a high court injunction in place that had enabled there eviction and so no sooner had the current occupants moved into the house that they too were served with an eviction order. They then contacted Solidarity Times asking us if we perhaps could do some video coverage of this new house that was occupied and tell the back story in the expectation that the eviction that was coming off could be resisted. In actual fact what happened was the following Friday before nine o'clock in the morning a very large squad of riot police turned up and using a kind of Roman tortise shield type formation smashed their way through the doors, charged into the house grabbed the occupants and dragged them down to the High Court where they had to pledge to actually leave the premises. So this Firehouse squat is once more an abandoned house.

A familiar Dublin pattern where evictions simply generate homelessness. As anyone who has been following Solidarity Times over the last month will know that this is a typical story of the struggle that's been going on in central Dublin particularly north central Dublin where there's a huge number of abandoned buildings and where people have occupied those buildings in order to convert them once more into homes. Many of these occupations have been met with eviction; some of these evictions have been illegal and violent involving heavies; some of these have followed court proceedings and a couple have followed injunctions. The best known of them of course being eviction of the Grangegorman complex about 4 months back. Its significanct that if you go down to that complex today you'll see it still lies more or less abandoned.  In fact at least some of the people in this particular occupation would have also been involved in those previous occupations and they have had the experience over the last few months of being evicted from one home they've made after the other

All so that these buildings can be turned back into speculation pieces for Irish capitalism.  It's no exaggeration to say that what's happening with these sort of places is there just like pieces that have been returned to a monopoly board so that people who've already got a vast amounts of money can trade those pieces with each other to become even richer.

Meanwhile the housing crisis in Dublin escalates and people like the people who lived here and were doing something to create their own homes are targeted by both private capital and the state.

This sort of property speculation which involves long periods of deliberate dereliction also causes problems for the communities where these buildings are located. Kids for instance will often get into these abandoned houses inside they are quite dangerous or what happens in this place happens where which is heroin addicts end up using them as shooting galleries and in this case they were simply tossing their needles out the window onto that roof below - something which also highlights the need for medically  supervised injection centers.

Not that the speculators could give a damn, they don't live here they live far out of the city or in posh suburbs like Dalkey or Foxrock

At the start of the summer it  was revealed there are something like 300,000 empty homes in Ireland.

A lot of people assumed that a large proportion of that number must be ghost estates, housing estates built at the height of the boom, hours from the major cities that nobody actually really wants to live in any more. The coverage of evictions we've done in the last four months over here on Solidarity Times however suggests a very different story.

We've now covered about half a dozen that have all happens within about the half kilometer between Phisboro and the city center but we are also aware of a few other occupied buildings in that same sort of general area. In some cases where people have been living in them for as long as two years and in addition just walking around the streets and indeed talking to people organizing these occupations it's clear there were many many more buildings in this area alone. At the same time that Ireland in general and Dublin in particular is seeing a housing crisis of massive proportions, probably the biggest the state has ever faced.

We are seeing a situation in which there are empty buildings to be found everywhere but as soon as anybody moves in to occupy them then the court issue orders for them to be evicted and the guards move in to carry out the dirty work.

This is all business as usual.

The Fianna Fail tent at the Galway races was infamous for the entertainment of property developers who financed Fianna Fail but Fine Gael and Labour Party governments have proven to be no different than this. And also of course it's not entirely coincidental that the 2014 register of interests discovered that almost one-third of TD's are also landlords! Let's return for a last look at the now evicted Firehouse squat.

One thing of interest is that the inhabitants were not simply humans but there were pets there as well. These two guys hopefully will have found a new home by now. This To Fix list will probably never have been completed before the eviction happened


WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )