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(en) Ireland, Workers Solidarity #82 - Squatting in Dublin One Squatter's Story: Housing is a Right not a Luxury

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 22 Sep 2004 07:08:37 +0200 (CEST)


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It's a simple idea - cities should be run by and for the people who live
in them. As it stands though the gombeens, businessmen and
speculators have the run of the place and as a result Dublin is a badly
planned and serviced city with spiralling house prices. Many
Dubliners are being squeezed out of their city and are forced to spend
hours in traffic commuting from outside of Dublin. Often working
class communities have no proper facilities for the youth or the
elderly and young families are in dire need of affordable crche
facilities.

The politicians and their friends the developers clearly don't care
about housing shortages and the lack of community facilities as our
cities are full of derelict or empty buildings. One way of responding to
this situation is to squat these spaces. With effort and imagination
these abandoned buildings can be transformed into a place to live, an
advice centre, a social centre, a co-op, a crche - or whatever else
answers a local need. This is precisely what happened last year in the
heart of Dublin city. Unfortunately, the council managed to have it
closed down in April and to date the house remains empty and
unused. What follows is a short account by one of the squatters of
why she chose to squat the building in the first place and what they
did with the space.

On August 8th of last year, a group of us moved into an abandoned
and run down house on Leeson St and proceeded to make it our
home. The house, lying empty for somewhere between 8 and 10
years, was in a very poor state of repair. Windows had been left open,
allowing dampness to seep in and thick mould covered most of the
walls. The back garden was a tangle of weeds which had choked the
pipes and drains. There were piles of rubble in every room and no
running water or electricity. Gradually, over the eight months that the
house was occupied, it was transformed into a colourful home for the
people who lived there and for the many visitors who stayed with us.
But more than this, it was used as an autonomous space; a place
from which to organise meetings, workshops and discussions. In its
short existence, the squat facilitated meetings by groups such as
Reclaim the Streets, Gluaiseacht, Food not Bombs, anti-war groups
and a woman's group. It housed the Bad Books' library and was used
as a creative space for artists and street theatre enthusiasts. Friends
and neighbours living in flats and apartments and with no access to
their own gardens, turned the former weed-choked yard into an
organic vegetable garden.

Squatting provides a space for all these activities to take place in. A
space that is organised and managed collectively by those who use it.
A space that does not cost so much money that small groups or
individuals such as those mentioned cannot afford to pay for it. A
space that government and local councils are unwilling or unable to
provide and so we provide it for ourselves. Squatting challenges the
notion that we must pay exorbitant amounts of money for somewhere
to live or languish on council housing lists if we cannot afford to rent
when empty and unused buildings litter the city.

Squatting a building can be a huge responsibility. At times there is a
sense of fear and insecurity with the knowledge that the council or
GardaÌ could show up and evict us all at anytime. But the feeling
of empowerment that comes with taking an empty building and
turning it into a home and a social space and the solidarity and
friendship that come from living and working collectively are things
that transcend the building itself so that even if it is lost, the desire
and need to squat remain alive.

by Sandie M

see also

* The anarchist movement in Ireland
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/movement.html
* Housing, space and squatting in Ireland
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/housing.html
===============================
This page is from the print version of the Irish
Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/paper.html
We also provide PDF files of all our publications
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/pdf.html for you
to print out and distribute locally
Print out the PDF file of this issue
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/pdf/ws/82.html


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