RHL flag and graffiti on the roof of James McSweeney House. Revolutionary Housing League
James McSweeney House

Judge orders arrest of Revolutionary Housing League members occupying Dublin city building

The ‘attachment’ order was granted in favour of the Cabhrú Housing Association, which provides housing for older persons.

A JUDGE HAS ordered gardaí to arrest and bring before the High Court all persons who are refusing to vacate a Dublin property owned by a charitable housing organisation, that has been illegally occupied since mid-May.  

The ‘attachment’ order was granted by Mr Justice Conor Dignam in favour of the Cabhrú Housing Association, which provides housing for older persons, in respect of its property at James McSweeney House, Berkeley Street, Dublin 7.

The order is against ‘persons unknown’ who the charity says are in contempt of an earlier court order to vacate the building.

The charity wants to redevelop it into housing units for older persons, but claims those works cannot be progressed due to what it says is the illegal occupation by persons alleged to be members of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Housing League (RHL).

In the past, the RHL has taken over and occupied other properties in Dublin.

The charity previously obtained a High Court order directing those in occupation to vacate the property.

However, Cabhrú claims that they are refusing to leave and are in contempt of court. 

Today Mr Justice Dignam, following an application by David Lennon Bl for Cabhrú, agreed that orders previously made by the court directing persons to leave the premises were not being complied with.

The court was satisfied that every effort had been made by the charity and security firms it had hired on its behalf to find out the identities of the individuals in occupation of the building and serve people entering and leaving the building with copies of the order to vacate.

The judge added that the court was satisfied that all those alleged to be in occupation are aware of the order to vacate, and the proceedings that Cabhrú have brought.

Mr Lennon told the court that his client does not want to see anyone go to prison, and just wants to repossess the building.

Counsel said that previously, another High Court judge refused to grant orders directing gardaí to arrest and bring the unknown persons before the Court over their alleged failure to vacate the property.

Mr Justice Rory Mulcahy had previously granted an injunction requiring those occupying the building to leave.

The judge declined to grant Cabhrú orders to attach and potentially commit those in contempt of the orders previously granted to prison.

This was due to a lack of evidence before the court about the identities of the persons on the property.

He was not satisfied that all of those alleged to be in occupation had been made aware of the orders to vacate the premises previously made by the court.

However the judge said that given the circumstances, Cabhrú could renew their application if the court’s concerns were addressed.

Counsel said that since then his client had done everything possible, at great expense to Cabhrú, to address the issues raised by Mr Justice Mulcahy.

Counsel said that anyone entering or exiting the building have been given copies of the court order to vacate.

Those orders have been translated into six different languages, as it has been believed that some of those in the premises are foreign nationals seeking international protection who have not been provided with accommodation by the State.

Counsel said that despite his client’s best efforts, it had not been possible to identify exactly who was in the building, as those in occupation had been covering their faces with masks.

Counsel said that the matter is urgent as his client is concerned about the state of the building, which they say is not suitable for human occupation.

Counsel said that from investigations by his client, and from posts on social media, Cabhrú believes that the building is being occupied by the Revolutionary Housing League (RHL).

After granting the order directing gardaí to arrest and bring before the Courts all persons who are alleged to be in breach of the order, the Judge adjourned the application to a date later this month.

Cabhrú claims that it has been unable to gain access to the premises since 12 May last, after persons unknown barricaded themselves into the building, which had been vacant since April 2021.

Planning permission has been granted for a 35-unit complex, and the charity intends to demolish the existing building and start construction work next year.

Cabhrú also claimed that it had made the property secure, disconnected water, gas and electricity with the only connection being to an alarm system. 

It was also boarded up and a security company engaged to call to the property three times a week.

It claims that following the occupation, the electrical supply has been tampered with and a fire alarm system has been interfered with. 

This has resulted in Cabhrú seeking injunctions to have the property vacated and to bring an end to the alleged interference with its representatives from gaining access.

Aodhan O Faolain