Council takes housing activists to court

by Ian Begley

A housing activist group which has taken over a former hostel in Bolton Street faces an injunction from Dublin City Council over its decision to occupy the premises which has been vacant for three years.
The Irish Housing Network (IHN) appeared before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan in the High Court on July 28 shortly before a protest march of around 80 people took place along Inns Quay in solidarity with the activists.
The local authority did not request that the IHN be removed from the premises, but outlined a number of conditions that it wished to see upheld.
It requested that there be no new residents, no further maintenance work and that council bodies be allowed to inspect the former hostel.
Justice Gilligan ruled that this request would not be upheld on the grounds that it would be impractical to keep a list of hostel residents and occupants.
However, he did rule in favour of the other two conditions requested by the council.
A court-ordered inspection will be conducted on July 31 by the council’s City Architects Division, the Dublin Fire Brigade and Public Lighting Services.
A further court date has been set for August 18 giving IHN members Seamus Farrell and Aisling Hedderman, who were named in the injunction, time to seek legal counsel.
The property was deemed “not fit for purpose” by the council which stated that upgrading works were needed before the hostel could officially reopen.
On July 3, the IHN identified the building on Bolton Street as one they could quickly put back to use as emergency accommodation.
Since taking over the hostel, the IHN has carried out significant renovation works including a complete refurbishment and electrical repairs to the premises.
The group believes The Bolt Hostel could house two families or up to six individuals comfortably with full mod cons including fully operational kitchens and bathrooms.
Seamus Farrell of the IHN said: “Over the month members of the IHN along with volunteers and supporters have worked with professional tradespeople to turn this once homeless hostel into a place of shelter at a time of deepening homeless crisis.”
He added, that instead of working with them, the council’s actions showed that their “definitive answer to the homeless crisis” was to target those working to remedy it. Dublin City Council told The Gazette that they would not comment on this issue due to ongoing legal proceedings.

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