A group describing themselves as the Cork Branch of the Connolly Youth Movement have said they are living in a formerly unoccupied house near UCC “to highlight the housing crisis".
In a statement, the group said: “The housing emergency has reached unprecedented levels, yet houses all over the country stand idle.
"Rent continues to rise. Instead of allowing several of our members to lapse into homelessness, we identified a derelict and clearly abandoned building. We saved it from collapsing into destruction. We cleaned it, cleared it and turned it into a home, our home.”
A member of the group told the Evening Echo that they had first moved into the property almost three months ago.
“We found the house and we have proof that it has not been lived in in about nine years, we have letters unopened going back that long,” he said.
“From the condition of the place it was clear no-one had been living here, you couldn’t rent it out, nobody would pay to live here.
“We don’t want to be kicked out. We feel we didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t stop anybody from making any profit. We did what we had to do, we had no other choice.”
The group said a man who said he was the owner had entered the property on Thursday and later that afternoon they were visited by members of the Gardaí. They are waiting to hear what will happen next and in the meantime wish to use their situation to highlight a nationwide problem.
“What we want to see is not a better situation for the four of us but a better situation for every renter in this country, every student in UCC, every young worker in Cork. It is not about us.
It is out of necessity for the four of us but it is also to make a point, what exactly are young people to do?”
Labour area representative Luke Field said he doesn't believe the squatters have been engaging in anti-social behaviour, using the house for illegal activities, or doing anything else to cause problems and he urged the authorities to proceed with caution and judgement.
“Nobody should have to resort to squatting. However, we have a housing crisis in this country that has been allowed to run riot.
“The situation is made even more egregious by the number of houses and potential dwellings in Cork City that lie idle, and the fact that landlords are allowed to leave them in that state.”
He said he wasn't aware of any complaints from neighbours and added: “The squatters haven't taken over a family home or deprived someone of any income by occupying the house. They've simply repurposed a building that had been lying idle for years.”
The Evening Echo has been unable to verify the visit with the Gardaí or make contact with the owners of the property.