International Callout: Help us resist eviction of SquatCity
see video here http://bcove.me/02q47p86
We are putting out an international callout for support, to help us resist the eviction of our homes, and to defend squatting in Dublin. We have been subject to a large scale eviction attempt over the last couple of days, and we are currently resisting, and appealing for help and support. Many of you would have stayed there during the International Squatters Convergence, and saw the space for yourselves.
GRANGEGORMAN -An Inspirational Beauty is Born
Occasionally events happen and you fail to realise the significance until much later. But the recent events in Grangegorman and the violent and oppressive attempts to evict the thirty young people from the home they’ve built for themselves in the ruins of terraced houses and a warehouse is such a significant moment.
The realization of years of policy and light regulation has allowed speculative land deals to pock mark this city, with the robber barons allowed to pick up land lots, let them fall into total dereliction awaiting for the ‘market’ to return.
The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command…
(World Turned Upside Down (Diggers)
The first property bubble, which we appear to be desperately re-engineering, left many land sites in the hands of speculator property tycoons, who had borrowed all the money from banks, mainly one bank, the infamous Anglo Irish. Then the music stopped. That ZOMBIE bank when it had to be slain from the books cost the Irish people close to €37 billion. NAMA was set up to deal with the fall out.
Grangegorman is part of that story, in the height of the last boom, in 2006, the site was being earmarked for 220 luxury apartments, 11 storey exciting retail opportunities, restaurants, and a ‘bamboo garden’ along with a cultural space. A couple of tram stops away from Grangegorman we have the new Criminal court where the CEO of that bank would be in the dock. Anglo Irish Bank was audited by a company called Ernst & Young, the same company which is currently attempting to evict the residents of Grangegorman.
About the same time that Banker was going to trial, on a sunny Sunday afternoon I entered into the Grangegorman squat through a rickety corrugated gate, on my bike. It was the culmination of a cycling tour given by the squatters who had taken us on a tour of the sites of previous squats which had existed in Dublin since the 1960’s. The tour covered sites of squatting from Dublin Housing Action Committee in the 1960’s & the Dublin Squatters’ Association of the 1970s, through the Traveller community’s protests in the 1990’s, right up until the 2000’santi-Globalisation protests, ended with us entering Grangegorman. It was the last scheduled event of the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair and it was a wonderful way to round off the weekend’s events. Here in this complex was an artist’s space, the start of a community garden, homes, glasshouses, and amazing art on walls.
My friend Sergio was with me and he took some photographs – his picture is featured here. There was on-going work with paint being applied to walls, a total re-generation project. The last use of this space was as doors and floors merchant, who was cashing in on the property boom, as the banks doled out unsustainable mortgages to the masses. That was before the music stopped, and the bubble burst…. cont
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.
.. Now what I witnessed was a fantastic transformation of the space. For the first time I understood what the Situationists meant by ‘Beneath the pavement, the beach’, because before me was the living embodiment of the city being re-discovered, and opened up for a different purpose rather than the city serving capital, consumerism, traffic flow, here was a beautiful subversion of space driven by the needs of people.
So what was once a space for selling floors, was now a space which served as a home, a meeting space, artists’ studios, a bike workshop, a performing arts venue, a community garden, a real cultural space, as opposed to the ersatz plans the suits submit in order to attain planning permission. This creativity is driven by people working together collectively, and by the imagination of people coming together with similar ideals and attempting to experiment with the space in order to extract and extend the possibilities.
That can never be replicated by a ‘bamboo garden’ or themed restaurants, because they are private spaces which serve no other purpose than to extract profit, or make a buck in one way or another.
What I could see was an experiment where you re-imagined the city as a playground, a space which you made work for a collective group of people, a community who were subverting the whole market/property mechanics. On a sun filled Sunday afternoon I saw new possibilities for Dublin, a city long since left as destitute by the robber barons, who were awaiting the next rise in the market, for their next round of Monopoly.
What if we could have collectives like Grangegorman all over the city. What would that look like? What if there was one of these in Phibsboro, Finglas, Tallaght, Crumlin, and the Liberties? All linked into the local community and all being spaces driven by the needs of people coming together and organising the space, making it fit with what the community wanted for the space. Behind the terraced house, the peoples paradise of possibilities!
The next week Sean Fitzpatrick, notorious Anglo Irish Banker walked free from the Criminal court and thanked the jury. Nearly a year has passed since my first visit to Grangegorman. I remain as excited about this space as I did the first time I walked through the gate. What has happened since is that the new college has been developed, in DIT. The campus was opened back in September, but the pressure on accommodation for students, car park spaces, and all the rest that comes from having a University in the neighborhood led to the events of the last week.
The wolves of capital are licking their lips at the prospects of this land returning to the private propertied class. The experiment needs to be extinguished so that normality can return, according to the management consultants. What this will mean is that some apartments will be built, which can be rented out to students at exorbitant rents, in order to fill the pockets of the rich landlords.
These students will most likely already be in the process of becoming indebted paying for their education. The same management consultants advise the faculty on how best to privatise education, are likely to be auditors for zombie banks, have many government contracts, and may also be the same firm that are liaising with private security goons to attempt evictions.
That is what Dublin looks like in 2015. The students graduate, already yoked to debt, and with little prospects, they emigrate. In Ireland in 2015, over 110,000 houses are in mortgage arrears, and the levels of inequality being experienced in Ireland are moving in the wrong direction, towards what is experienced in the USA, with the gross income inequality in Ireland being the highest in the EU (TASC, 2015, p.26).
The social housing crisis in this city has 90,000 on the waiting list and in 2013, a mere 757 social houses were built in total in the Republic. Yet, the State and the Justice system appear likely to add thirty more people to the homeless list when the order comes to evict Grangegorman.
When that is the reality, you need to turn the world upside down and re-imagine the world because it is not working for the people who live in it. Taking a crowbar to a lock is the first strike against a system which works for the 1% and protects property above people.
How to write “No Trespass” must grieve their heart full sore,
We got rid of one strange language now we are faced with many, many more.
The above line comes from a song sung by Luke Kelly, the balladeer and Communist, son of this city, and really he is asking was it all worth it. As we get closer to 2016 this question needs to be asked again. His like, and his kin, his soul brothers and soul sisters are inside the walls of Grangegorman, living a beautiful experiment which shines a light on all that is wrongheaded and greed fueled about this City.
But in its example shines a diamond with which we can cut through the facade of private property, and re-imagine the city as one based on the needs of people, based on our wants, our hopes, our desires and dreams. Grangegorman might die, but for the future sake of this city and its people, I hope that it inspires us all to re-imagine the space in which we live.
SquatCity (GrangeGorman), Dublin, currently resisting eviction.
HOW IT BEGAN
Here is a brief timeline of what happened, as well as a short description of the space.
On Monday 23rd March, the squatted buildings at Grangegorman, where a community has been living for a year-and-a-half, was the subject of a violent attempted eviction by a large force of contractors and cops. Here is a summary of the situation.
The space consists of three houses, three converted office buildings, five warehouses, a main courtyard and two smaller yards, all home to around 30 people.
We are reclaiming unused space and building a community around it so it can be used autonomously for projects that would not be possible within the constraints of a rented space.
We hosted the 2014 International Squatter’s Convergence here and have also been host to many other events.
ATTEMPTED EVICTION ON MONDAY:
* At 6:30am on Monday 23rd March 2015, 30-40 private security and construction workers, assisted by a large number of cops, cut through the main gates and started erecting fences around the dwellings.
* Throughout the morning many people were assaulted by cops and security, and some were injured.
* No prior notice was given.
* Some residents found themselves fenced off completely from their homes and belongings.
* The private security threatened and intimidated the residents, and at one point residents found themselves trapped between two pieces of fencing that were being pushed against them.
* Once they had secured the temporary fencing, they went on to erect permanent, spiked fences around the houses.
* Protestors occupying the main gates, four metres high, were attacked by private security with metal bars. This was captured by a photographer from the back garden of one of the houses.
* The main gates were then forced open, causing one protestor to fall off onto the ground. His leg was seriously injured and he was brought by an ambulance to the Mater Hospital.
* Once the gate was open, a van attempting to exit the compound drove into a crowd of people. Protestors had to bang on the windscreen of the van to get the driver to stop.
* After the protestors were injured, the cops were eager to de-escalate the situation.
* Representatives from the protestors and LAS Group met with the Superintendent and negotiated that the protestors would let the vehicles leave if all the hired security would also leave.
* Afterwards, the protestors occupied the yard and celebrated successfully resisting the eviction.
We appeared in court for an injunction hearing, we were granted 24 hours to seek legal advice and are back in court on Thursday morning. We still occupy the space and are preparing to continue to resist.
We are asking the international community for help and solidarity. All kinds of support are welcome. We need people to come and help us occupy and resist, but also lots of other types of help. We need as many people as possible to help us defend the space, to stop the eviction, and to show the cops and baillifs that we won’t give up. We have a little time to prepare now, and it would be great if people could come to help.
Many of you visited the space during the International Squatters Convergence and we would love for you to come and help if you can!
We are expecting a large scale eviction and need all the help we can get, we will resist in any way we can, and if you are willing to come and help us fight off an eviction, it would be great!
If you want to contact us, for info or to tell us you are coming, please email: squatcitydublin@@@riseup.net
Other things we need:
-first aid supplies