The massive complex of squatted buildings at Grangegorman was evicted for a second time in early August, this time its likely to be permanent at the plan is to build a huge number of expensive to rent student apartments on the site.
The eviction was anticipated and a lot of material was moved over the days around August 11th when 'heavies' broke through the gates but were told to back off and allow time for material to be moved out when the Garda arrived. The squatters were quietly moving to another large abandoned building nearby that had been squatted recently, the Debtors Prison on Halston street. Central Dublin is full of such abandoned buildings despite the worst housing crisis in the history of the state. Welcome to Ireland 2016 where protecting the rights of vulture funds to make millions come far, far ahead of needs of those without secure accommodation.
Parts of the Grangegorman site had been abandoned for 20 years as they were assembled into a speculative land package. The total site included 3 very large warehouses, 3 houses and 2 office buildings and a shop as well as one enormous central courtyard and a number of smaller ones. With the 2009 crisis the original developer ended up in NAMA who evicted the site a little over a year ago and then sold it to more property speculators, details below. This new group then abandoned the site so was occupied once more a few months ago and has provided housing to up to 30 people since then as well as being the site of art performances and solidarity fundraisers.
Hundreds if not thousands of people would have attended events at Grangegorman in this period, in particular for the 'Words in the Warehouse' nights. One reviewer wrote of there visit "I had child like sense of wonder all evening as many of Dublin’s best kept secrets performed music and spoken word. The atmosphere was encouraging, supportive, and electric. The night was filled with highs and lows, of words filled with sadness, love and nostalgia. I left feeling like my soul was full and my eyes were open."
The value of this site has increased massively because public money was used to develop the long abandoned hospital complex up the road into a Grangegorman DIT. With the area now having a large and growing student population our understanding is that an international fund spotted the opportunity to make a killing and has now got planning permission to build a huge number of student apartments on the site. These are likely to cost students 220 to 250 euro a week to rent, such high rents will of course only add to the pressure on students to borrow enormous sums while in college.
The Irish Times reported July 20th that the same Judge, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, who had given the previous eviction order also gave this one to a company called TSAF 1 Brunswick GP Ltd. A quick companies search reveals that "Tsaf 1 Brunswick Gp Limited was set up on Tuesday the 18th of August 2015. Their current address is Dublin 2, and the company status is Normal. The company's current directors Tim Mitchell, Robert Richard Waterhouse and Aaron Bailey have been the director of 11 other Irish companies between them." The directors have UK addresses but the company is registered out of 17-19 Sir John Rogerson which we believe is the building on the Quays that in excess of 700 companies are registered out of.
A Robert Richard Waterhouse is a director of Global Student Accommodation UK Limited, presumably the same person listed above. Public records reveal four lobbying meetings with 'Global Student Accommodation' and public officials about the Grangegorman site.
Planning permission has been given for 126 student apartments, along with a supermarket and off-licence. With a huge captive student population and the massive housing crisis making it hard for students as well as everyone else to find accommodation the company can be expected to make a killing.
Statement from the Grangegorman Squat City web page
Squat City Is Under Attack!
Friends, neighbours, comrades, Squat City is under attack! The rich, nasty vulture fund who have acquired the place we call home have been given official, judicial approval to kick us out (and then try to make us pay for doing so). The injunction, granted on Wednesday the 20th of July, comes into effect on the 10th of August. Some time on or after that date, their minions will show up. And we all know what happens then.
Over its lifetime, our squatted complex has been home and shelter for lots and lots of wonderful people, and has slowly developed into a cohesive community of autonomous cooperative houses (some hand built!), along with a wide network of friends and activist groups, all coming together to make something unique. A city within a city. It has been the base for lots of inspring projects, and spectacular events. It’s been a hub of creative resistance to the capitalist-created homeless crisis. And it’s been a symbol of hope, reminding us that we can resist the system on a practical level, building communities and providing homes and safety for those who need them. None of us want to see it end, but if it has to then by jaysus we’re going out with a bang. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be having lots of events and activities, starting with Words in the Warehouse on Saturday the 30th. And we’ll be having a massive party starting the weekend before the injunction date, that’s the weekend of the 6th and 7th of August. We want everyone to come help us make this an unforgettable time in Squat City’s history. Let’s not let them grind us down, let’s keep the revolutionary flame burning to the end!
You'll find a collection of articles and video detailing the occupation of the site at http://www.wsm.ie/grangegorman
The image is wall art inside Grangegorman in the northwest corner, just beside the building that was being used as a social centre
Words:Andrew Flood (follow Andrew on Twitter)