Five families with a combined total of ten children are resisting eviction from a building on Dublin’s O’Connell Street where they have been placed in emergency accommodation by Dublin City Council. The building in question, Lynam’s Hotel, has been taken over from its owner by NAMA and the families have been told that they must leave so that it can be turned into temporary accommodation for tourists. Already there are many tourists renting the rest of the 43 suites.
The families however have decided that they are not going to leave and Irish Housing Network has organised support for them. Volunteers were outside on Wednesday as one of the parents had been told that day to leave with her child, which she was refusing to do. She was then given an extension until Friday but on Thursday, another family were told to move and they too were holding out with supporters nearby. Towards the end of the day that family too was given an extension.
Some of the families in question attended the Dáil late on Thursday afternoon, where Thomas Pringle, Independent TD, asked a question regarding the situation of a junior Government Minister for Housing. Clare Daly TD reportedly had been trying to get a question asked since Monday. Presumably this question has as part of its purpose to draw media attention to the issue and to put pressure on the landlord not to evict the families.
NAMA was set up allegedly to recoup money from speculators who had overextended their credit and could not clear their debts. The idea presented to the public was that, as the Government had bailed out with public money the banks who had lent out to speculators sums far in excess of what was commercially justifiable, the State would take the properties and sell them, putting the money gained back into the public purse. What has in fact been happening is that NAMA has been selling these properties off to vulture speculators, who are snapping them up at prices well below their market value. One of these vulture speculators is Hammerson, a British-based property speculator company, which is rumoured to be looking to buy the hotel. Hammerson also has bought Chartered Land’s (Joe Reilly) property empire and with it, planning permission to demolish all but four buildings of the Moore Street quarter and to build a huge shopping centre over the historic battleground and national monument.
Many acknowledge that there is a housing crisis currently in Ireland and in particular in Dublin. The Irish State that was created in 1922 has been since its inception in support of capitalists, including speculators, but against workers and lower-middle class people. Nevertheless in the past local authorities did build some social housing to rent but these days, Dublin City Council does not want the role of managing housing and has sold off most of its stock and not built any new houses for decades.
One of the people who fought against the State we have inherited was killed by Free State soldiers in O’Connell Street and a small plaque commemorates him on the corner of the building there now. Cathal Brugha had been wounded 25 times in the Easter Rising and beat the odds to survive, though he walked with a limp thereafter. In 1919 he organised the IRA from the Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army who were willing to join. In 1921 he voted against the Treaty and in 1922 led a force of IRA against the new Free State in order to ease the pressure on the Republican forces who were being shelled at the Four Courts. He was shot down in the street this month, 94 years ago, across the street from Lynam’s Hotel.
On Friday 22nd, the IHN called a public protest outside the hotel. Although at short notice and called for 1pm, therefore during office hours, up to 30 people supported the protest. The event attracted considerable media and public attention.
Irish Housing Network is set to continue to support the families in resisting eviction and volunteers may wish to get in touch with the organisation to help maintain a support rota for the families https://www.facebook.com/irishhousingnetwork/.