As many of you may have heard, a group of activists were forcefully removed from a vacant property they had been occupying on North Frederick St on Tuesday evening. They have been occupying empty properties in the city to draw attention to the policy of landlords keeping properties vacant in order to keep demand and thus rental prices extortionately high. I support the activists wholeheartedly. There is a housing crisis which affects most of the population in some way, through homelessness, spiraling rents, rocketing house prices making it almost impossible for people to buy, or for families of students wanting to go to university in Dublin or Galway, who simply can’t afford to live there. Protesting the actions that contribute to this crisis is vital, from underhand actions of landlords to the government policies that support them.
A high court injunction was issued to the activists to vacate the property. They didn’t of course, so inevitably the Gardai were going to show up and escort them from the premises. How this took place however, was despicable.
A large, unmarked van pulled up outside the occupied house late on Tuesday afternoon. The van had no licence plate on the front, and no tax, insurance, or NCT on display. The rear licence plate showed a UK reg. From this van, 16 men in balaclavas emerged, with sledgehammers and electric saws, with which they forced their way into the building and assaulted the activists therein. Five were hospitalised by these goons.
Where were the Gardai during all this? An illegal vehicle, unidentifiable masked men, and assault. Surely there are plenty of grounds for arrests there? But no. The Gardai were there in force to stand by and watch this happening, and actually arrest a number of the peaceful protesters instead (as well as pepper spraying them). The police presence included the Garda Public Order Unit, who were also wearing masks. So, we really are back to the days of old, where bailiffs would throw people from their homes while the police looked on. This has been happening for quite a while of course. The Gardai acting as private security for corporations and the elite is nothing new. However, the masked men angle is a new development.
So who were they? A private security firm? If so, in addition to the illegal van they had, they should, by law, have been wearing identification. They weren’t. Maybe they were Gardai in plainclothes? Or maybe, considering the UK reg on the van, they were shipped in. The van used to be registered to the Greater Manchester Police. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, the newly appointed Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, is formerly of the notorious thugs the RUC. Maybe the men in the van were former associates of him from the RUC too?
Whoever they were, the way they blatantly acted with impunity shows that they had the full support of the Gardai. Another demonstration of how rotten to the core our police force are. But their scare tactics didn’t work, as hundreds of protesters came out to block rush hour traffic yesterday afternoon, and the occupation of other properties in the city continues. If anything, the housing campaign has gained more publicity and support from the actions of these thugs on Monday evening, and the pathetic behaviour from the Gardai. I wait with great interest to hear how the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice explain their way out of this one.
In the meantime, whenever you see cops behaving like pigs, remember you have a weapon in your pocket, use it. Don’t forget they work for you. They are accountable to you. So, film, share, expose and publicise: