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take back the city

House in Crumlin occupied as housing activists shut down part of O'Connell Street

“I don’t think it’s acceptable for people to break into properties and occupy them,” Minister of State Damien English said.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 22nd 2018, 4:00 PM

A HOUSE IN Crumlin has been occupied by a grassroots group of housing activists today, while a Take Back the City march takes place in Dublin city centre. 

Earlier today, a junior minister criticised occupying vacant properties as “disgraceful” and an “unnecessary distraction”.

Crowds gathered at the Garden of Remembrances this lunchtime, before marching down O’Connell Street and stopping on O’Connell Street Bridge.

Gardaí said that the “four corners” of the bridge have been blocked by the demonstration, and are advising that road users take different routes; a number of Dublin Bus routes are being diverted.

Press Association photographer Niall Carson noted on Twitter that the crowd consisted of a “huge amount of middle class young people”, and “few if any politicians”.

Take Back the City, which is a activists from over 15 grassroots groups, is holding a national day of action today to highlight Ireland’s housing crisis (you can read more on the Take Back The City movement here). 

“The housing crisis is an island wide problem. It affects different areas in different ways, but has similar causes and effects. This is why a strong supportive movement across the entire island is so important,” Take Back The City said on its Facebook page for the event. 

Glebe House

In Crumlin village, Glebe House has been occupied for 24 hours, after four grassroots activists entered the house yesterday afternoon.

People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh said activists are calling on Dublin City Council to acquire the building and put it to use.

MacVeigh said their understanding is that the house has been vacant for two or three years, and that very little work would be involved to make it habitable.

She said it’s one of a number of vacant properties in Crumlin, and she “doesn’t doubt” that there will be other occupations in the area.

“Imagine if you had a family and in your area there’s a number of properties that aren’t being used – you can understand why people are getting frustrated.”

TD Bríd Smith said that activists were “challenging the idea that properties can lie vacant in the midst of a housing crisis”.

“They recognise that the government’s commitment to the market is providing no real solutions,” she said.

‘It’s a distraction, and unnecessary’

Just as the protests were kicking off, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development Damien English said that the demonstrations were “a distraction”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra, he said:

I have no time and I don’t think it’s acceptable for people to break into properties and occupy them. I think it’s a distraction, it’s unnecessary, and not useful. It does not provide a home for anybody.

“I’m not taking that back. I have no problem with peaceful demonstrations, absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. But breaking and entering into properties, it’s not helpful, it’s not necessary, and it’s not going to solve anything.”

Separate events are organised throughout the country – including in Galway, Waterford, Sligo and Cork. A larger demonstration dubbed “Raise the Roof” is planned for 12.30pm on 3 October outside Leinster House.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

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