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'Serious risk' to dozens of Romanian children and adults squatting in Dublin flats complex, court told

The court heard there had been a near riot outside the property last weekend.

Image: Shutterstock

THERE IS A very serious risk from fire to the lives of dozens of Romanian children and adults squatting in a Dublin city centre flats complex, a judge in the Circuit Civil Court was told today.

Judge John O’Connor granted retired solicitor and landlord Mel Kilraine injunctions directing the families to vacate six residential units at Five Belvedere Place, Dublin 1 after hearing they had broken into the building in June and July and dismantled wooden shutters blocking off the units.

Barrister Sean O’Sullivan, who appeared with Ronan O’Brien Solicitors for Kilraine, said there were now up to 15 adults and children squatting in individual rooms.

“Fire detection systems have been disabled, fire extinguishers removed from corridors and a fire alarm expert sent to reconnect fire safety devices fled for his life through a window after having been locked up and intimidated by squatters who believed he was there to cut off power supplies,” O’Sullivan told the court.

Judge O’Connor, in granting leave yesterday to apply for injunctions, said he had been greatly concerned about the threat to life and the grave dangers particularly to young children.

He had directed that Tusla, Dublin City Council and gardaí be immediately alerted of the dangers but only the child and family protection service was represented in court today through solicitor Diego Gallagher.

O’Sullivan said there had been a near riot outside the property on Saturday evening last with fights having broken out between some of the squatters. When Mountjoy Station gardaí were called to the scene the trouble-makers had locked themselves back in the building and the gardaí had adopted the attitude that the squatting was a civil and not a criminal matter.

Kilraine, of Henry Street, Bailieborough, Co Cavan, told the court in sworn affidavits that fire protection equipment had been torn off the walls in the building after Romanian families had broken in.

He said elderly local residents and the representatives of a local convent school now feared injury as a result of the potential danger of fire breaking out and spreading as well as anti-social behaviour by the squatters in the area.

Kilraine said he had been gradually emptying the building of legal tenants with a view to refurbishing residential units and selling the property after interest had been shown in it by a potential purchaser. Units he had boarded up after previous tenants had voluntarily moved on had been broken open.

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O’Sullivan said that apart from the removal and disconnection of fire safety equipment the squatters had carried out illegal work on the electrical circuiting of the building. The building was no longer suitable for human habitation and trespassers were exposing themselves to serious harm.

Judge O’Connor granted Kilraine injunctions restraining the squatters from further occupying the building and directed that they vacate the property. He said he was greatly concerned for the health and safety of the children.

He said it was now up to the gardai and Dublin City Council, which was responsible for fire safety, to deal with the matter. The judge also directed that court orders be translated into Romanian before being posted on and in the building and served on the occupants.

He said that while there was no court direction involving Tusla he was very concerned about the safety of the children in the building. The matter will be dealt with further at the end of the month.

About the author:

Ray Managh

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