Debtors & Prison Occupation


cungkring.com : Called in to the Debtors' Prison today and had a chat with Ania, James and some others who've been squatting there for the last week. They seem to have moved there from the Grangegorman squat on North King Street.  That site is due to become student housing. Back in the 1990s as a member of the Green Street Trust I worked with some creative people to save the building.  At that stage it was due to be demolished for road widening, but thankfully things have moved on. It's good to see another occupation drawing attention to the significant number of underused and empty buildings in the city while we're in the midst of a housing crisis. Here's a few scattered notes of my thoughts at this stage.

1. It's good to see new life in this historic old building, and hopefully this action will put pressure on the Office of Public Works to find a new long-term tenant for the building.

2. On 15 August 2016 Mr Justice Michael Hanna granted Department of Public Expenditure and the Office of Public Works (OPW) an injunction compelling the group to leave the building so it looks like eviction may happen soon.

3. The building currently has electricity, but not working toilets, so a long-term occupation would be challenging.

4. Although the building has been empty for the best part of a generation, the OPW has undertaken some much needed lighting, drainage and structural improvements over the last ten years. Income from filming has contributed to funding this.

5. Over the last couple of years I've been in the building several times. Several arts organisations such as Block T and Broadstone Studios may be interested in taking space in the building. It would be worth meeting with them to further the project.

6. Build alliances with local representatives and residents.  It is  worth seeking support from the eight local city councillors, and the three local TDs, as well as Minister Se├ín Canney, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief.

7. Show that you're safety conscious. The building has holes in the floor, and doesn't have a working fire alarm system. This probably means that the City Council will want to move you out sooner rather than later, and this may be an insurmountable problem. Unless you can show that you're on top of this you'll be moved out really quickly.

8. Produce a clear vision for what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. People will find it difficult to support you unless you have clear aims and objectives.

9. Once you have a clear idea on what you want to achieve, move quickly to establish a structure to achieve this. This may be a cooperative, a company or a charity, but unless there's clarity on this it'll be hard to convince others to support you.

10. Spread the word. Flyers and a Facebook page with lots of likes is a start, but you'll need a website, a spokesperson and a clear concise message for the media, the general public and everyone else.

They're having an open day on Sunday 21st August 2016 at 4pm.

I hope it goes well for them.

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