Court orders people using Dublin building as homeless accommodation to vacate premises

The owners and developers of Parkgate House, in Dublin 8 claimed that the building had been illegally taken over by members of a group calling itself 'The Revolutionary Housing League'
Court orders people using Dublin building as homeless accommodation to vacate premises

Aodhan O'Faolain

The High Court has ordered all persons who are allegedly illegally occupying a building in central Dublin that is due to be converted into over 500 residential units to immediately vacate the premises.

The owners and developers of Parkgate House, in Dublin 8 claimed that the building had been illegally taken over by members of a group calling itself 'The Revolutionary Housing League', which had been using to provide accommodation for the homeless.

On Thursday Ms Justice Eileen Roberts granted the building's owners, financial fund Davy Platform ICAV, acting on behalf of its sub-fund the Phoenix Sub-fund, and Ruirside Developments, which is to develop the site into 519 rental units and other amenities an injunction requiring the building to be vacated.

The proceedings are against Sean Doyle, Diarmuid Breatnach and all persons in occupation of the building,

The property was formerly operated by a fabric wholesalers Hickey and Company Ltd, which vacated the site two years ago.

Homeless

It was claimed illegally occupied since late August when banners were seen hanging over the side of the property that adjoins the River Liffey and that the defendants had "barricaded themselves into the property". Representing himself Mr Doyle opposed the application.

He said that the building had been acquired, was renamed Ionad Sean Heuston, and was being used to help homeless persons of all nationalities.

Quoting James Connolly, Mr Doyle said: "We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times."

The current homeless crisis Mr Doyle added was without question something exceptional, he added. It has reached a point where deaths on the streets or person throwing themselves in the River Liffey "didn't make the news anymore".

He told the court that the building had been used to help provide accommodate to those living on the street, and condemned the State's attitude, which he described as "class cleansing" towards the homeless.

Mental health

The crisis is having a devastating effect on person's mental health and especially the health and well-being of the thousands of children who are currently homeless, despite the fact that tens of thousands of suitable accommodations remain vacant, he said.

Mr Breatnach was not in court and no submissions were made on his behalf.

Another man Mr Mark McDonald said that he had been staying at the building with his pregnant partner.

He said that they had been sleeping on the streets for some time and gave details of the severe problems they had encountered including being robbed of the few possessions they have and were the subject of violent assaults.

Mr McDonald who became emotional while addressing the court, said that he and his partner had attempted to get help from various bodies including local authorities and housing charities.

The only group to help them he said was the RHL, which he said had given him and his partner a safe place to stay as well as basic amenities such as hot water.

If the injunction was granted, Mr McDonald said he and his partner had nowhere to go and would be back on the street.

Proceedings had been brought against Mr Alan Hall.

Undertaking

He gave an undertaking to the court that he would not go on the property.

He said that he supported those helping the homeless, and pleaded with the court "not to criminalise" the homeless, the mentally ill, persons with drug additions, or those trying to aid the homeless.

Represented by Stephen Byrne Bl the plaintiffs sought the orders on grounds including that the occupation will prevent them from carrying out any further works at the site, and that the occupation would result in the insurer removing its cover.

The occupation had also delayed plans to redevelop the site.

The occupants have no legal right nor any authorisation to be there, and the plaintiffs claim that the building is not currently fit for habitation, and they had health and safety concerns.

It is also claimed that social media posts from the RHL contained threats towards persons involved with both plaintiffs.

This allegation was denied by Mr Doyle, which he described as an exaggeration.

Judgment

In her judgment, Ms Justice Roberts said that she sympathised with Mr McDonald and all those who are currently homeless.

However, she said that she was not a politician and has no role in public policy.

All the court could deal with, she said, was the application that had been made before it.

In the circumstances the judge said she was satisfied from the evidence before the court to grant the injunction sought and make orders requiring all those in occupation to vacate the premises.

The court heard that the plaintiffs would take a pragmatic approach in relation to allowing those in occupation to remove their belongings from the property.

Mr Byrne said that there were concerns that the order may not be complied with.

Noting those concerns the judge adjourned the matter for a week and added that she hoped that the order would be obeyed.

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