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Plans to redevelop property at centre of controversial 'Take Back the City' eviction into new home

Activists were controversially evicted from the property in September last year.

34 North Frederick Street shortly after it was occupied by protesters
34 North Frederick Street shortly after it was occupied by protesters
Image: RollingNews.ie

PLANNING PERMISSION HAS been sought to convert and restore the property at the centre of last year’s Take Back the City occupation and protests in Dublin.

Plans were submitted last month by Colm McGreal to Dublin City Council to restore and change the use of 34 North Frederick Street to a single residential unit and carry out associated works.

The proposed development of the property – which is a protected structure – includes the creation of reception rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, a study, a kitchen and dining room, as well as a laundry room, bicycle storage and other storage rooms.

The development would also include various restorative works including putting in new windows, doors, stairs and upgrading plumbing and electrical systems at the property.

The application was declared invalid by Dublin City Council last week.

Council officers said that the planning notices did not meet minimum requirements and that the description was “insufficient for the information of the public”.

McGreal was requested to submit a new site notice and a new newspaper notice in regards to the proposed development.

34 North Frederick Street was vacant for a number of years before it was occupied for three weeks during August and September 2018 by housing activists from the Take Back the City group.

The group took over a number of properties in 2018 as part of direct action protests against the housing crisis in Dublin.

An injunction against the occupiers was granted to the building’s owner on 28 August, 2018 by the High Court and the occupiers were ordered to vacate the building by 2pm the following day.

The occupiers defied this order and on 11 September, 2018 a group of men from a private security firm wearing balaclavas entered the building to enforce the High Court order.

Protests took place outside the building during this time. Gardaí also attended the scene, including a number of members from the public order unit whose faces were covered by hoods.

Protesters clashed with gardaí and five people were arrested for public order offences and later released.

The incident and the conduct of the gardaí sparked criticism from civil society groups and opposition politicians. Amnesty International Ireland and the Irish Council of Civil Liberties called for reports into the conduct of gardaí during the event.

Commenting at the time, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that the form of dress used by gardaí at the event “was not correct” as protective helmets should have been worn in conjunction with the hoods.

Harris also requested a report from the assistant commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Region to “see what lessons could be learned from the event”.

Speaking at the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality in February 2019, Harris said that he had received the report into the event and that gardaí were “building in the lessons learned in respect of how we deal with situations in which private individuals seek to repossess property after civil proceedings”.

“There has been a change in how we manage those operations,” Harris said.

“In short, we are far more assertive in terms of how they are done and at what time they are done and to make sure they are done to minimise the risk of breach of the peace.”

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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