HOUSING protestors brought traffic to a standstill in Dublin this evening as hundreds blocked the junction of Parnell Street and O’Connell Street.
The protest follows the eviction of housing activists from a vacant property in North Frederick Street on Tuesday, an operation one TD described as ‘disturbing’.
Masked security men, accompanied by gardaí, force their way into the house after the occupants ignored a High Court order obtained by the owner to vacant the property.
The occupants left peacefully but five people protesting the eviction were arrested for public order offences.
Tonight’s solidarity rally was organised by campaign group Take Back the City, who claimed the masked security men contravened Private Security Regulations by not wearing identity badges during Tuesday's eviction and that gardaí used ‘physical force’.
The group also claimed several protestors required hospital treatment.
This evening, protestors once again gathered at North Frederick Street at 5.30pm before marching to the junction of Parnell Street and O’Connell Street.
There they staged a 30-minute sit-down, bringing traffic to a halt, before making their way to a property on Belvedere Place that campaigners have been occupying since Saturday.
Several protestors waved pictures from Tuesday night’s eviction, showing some gardaí with their faces covered outside the North Fredrick Street property as the security personnel made their way inside.
A garda statement said the masks are fire retardant hoods that are part of the public order unit’s safety equipment and that garda numbers identifying gardaí remained visible.
However the tactic has drawn condemnation from several politicians.
— Take Back The City - Dublin (@TBTCDublin) September 12, 2018
“It is unsettling to see gardaí policing a protest in balaclavas,” said Green Party justice spokesperson Roderic Gorman.
“It sets out a highly confrontational tone and is the exact opposite of the openness and transparency in policing that we should expect from An Garda Síochána.
“The gardaí must examine the tactics that have been employed here.”
Meanwhile Richard Boyd Barrett TD from People Before Profit said: “The image of masked thugs, sent in by the owners of the vacant property, to forcibly remove the activists being protected by numerous gardaí encapsulates the State’s distorted priorities when it comes to the housing crisis and people on the ground who are trying to highlight this social emergency.
“The images and videos of the actions of the gardaí and the landlord’s hired goons which were going around social media last night and reports of activists, some of whom received hospital treatment, are very disturbing.”
Of the five people arrested, gardaí say two were subsequently charged with public order offences and two were given adult cautions.
A file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the fifth person.
All five have since been released.