Republic of Ireland news

Politicians applaud housing activists who occupied vacant property

The Summerhill Occupation group during their occupation of a vacant property in Summerhill Parade, Dublin to protest rent hikes and poor housing conditions. Picture by Summerhill Occupation, Press Association
Aoife Moore, Press Association

Politicians from a number of parties have backed the occupation of a vacant property in Dublin by housing activists on Tuesday night.

A number of Dublin housing action groups joined together and occupied a property in the city centre to protest against rent hikes and poor housing conditions.

Hundreds of people marched from O'Connell Street to Ballybough where they took over a vacant house.

Groups are involved in the protest include the Dublin Renters Union and Dublin Central Housing Action.

A statement released by the DCHA said that they took over the property at 35 Summerhill Parade to highlight the "horrendous" housing conditions they deal with each day.

They said: "Enough is enough.

"Rent hikes, evictions, poor housing conditions; people stuck in overcrowded homes living in bunkbeds, or packed into their relatives homes; people couch-surfing, sleeping rough, living in hostels and hotels, we hear about these horrendous situations every day now."

The group demands the empty houses on Summerhill Parade be purchased by Dublin City Council and given to the local community, and that private, vacant properties can, and should be put into public ownership.

A spokesperson for Summerhill Occupation said on Wednesday that a number of people are still occupying the house.

"We've had no word from Dublin City Council, the landlord or the Department of Housing yet in relation to our demands.

"We've had a number of local councillors at the house showing support.

"Ideally Dublin City Council put these proprieties to use, let families have access to them, rather than them lying empty for gentrification purposes."

Sinn Fein housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin TD backed the occupation on Wednesday, saying the Government was not ambitious enough in their efforts to tackle the housing crisis.

"For years, activists, housing experts, and opposition parties have been pushing the government to take decisive action on turning around vacant homes.

"The schemes the government has introduced including, repair and lease, buy and renew and the Housing Agency fund are underfunded and the targets are far too low.

"The government's vacant homes strategy is not ambitious enough and contains mostly measures that have already been announced.

"Bringing more vacant homes back into use seems like an obvious solution.

"The government must do more."

Councillor Eilis Ryan, a Workers' Party councillor in the local area, welcomed the occupation.

"The buildings in question were the site of a series of illegal evictions which took place earlier this year.

"As far as I am concerned the tenants continue to have a legal right to live there, and activists have every right to protect this.

"It is criminal that buildings can be left empty for months and years, in the middle of a housing crisis."

The group will take part in a door-knocking exercise on Wednesday to canvas the community in Summerhill Parade to gauge support for the occupation.

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