Dublin: Interview with An Spreach housing activists

On Tuesday evening Garda in Dublin smashed their way into a house in Phibsboro in Dublin in order to evict housing activists who had recently occupied it. The stories we published about it attracted a lot of discussion from our readers so we decided to interview one of the activists involved so they could explain their stance in relation to this specific occupation and the housing crisis in general.

Q: Could you give a bit of context to the particular house that was evicted?

Of course. Firstly the house was occupied by An Spreach and on the day there was an An Spreach meeting being held in the house to plan and coordinate future housing projects for homeless families and individuals in the Dublin region.

Q: OK Could you tell me a little about An Spreach?

An Spreach is an anti-capitalist squatting orientated housing action group. We focus on people self organising and empowering themselves through direct action. We also constantly critique the continuous capitalist housing issue, attempting to illuminate that treating the symptoms of the housing issue is only a temporary fix to a permanent proplem – the capitalist/statist system. The domination of a small number of individuals over housing and other forms of property is an unacceptable situation.

Essentially the capitalist system puts the rights of private property before human rights. This emphasis on private property and lack of humanity has led to a situation where there are 360,0000 empty premises in Ireland with 900,000 people on the social housing waiting list. These are conservative government figures!

Q: And what about the eviction itself?

The Gardai turned up around 5.30 and began kicking and hammering on the door demanding to get in. When refused and questioned about the legality of their actions and demands they were heard calling backup. During this time residents spoke to the Guards and informed them that squatting was a civil matter and not the concern of the Gardai.

The Gardai ignored this and turned up in force-with 6 vehicles ,at least 10 guards armed with battering rams and crowbars. After attempting to kick the door in again the began their assault on the house as the videos show.

After 10 minutes the door and frame had been removed and the house swamped with Gardai. The Guards had effectively acted as hired thugs and bailiffs for an individual who claimed to be a relative of the landlord-without any legal documentation.

Q: What was it like inside as they were breaking in?

It was terrifying. The windows and doors were violently shaking, including the ones upstairs. Pieces of metal were flying off the door directly at the residents as the door was battered down by the Gardai.

Thankfully in the end no-one was injured during this extremely violent eviction although some personal property and medications were lost.

Q: And what about the future of An Spreach? What next?

After this eviction An Spreach is planning further actions to alleviate the housing issue and is continuing to forge links with grassroots campaigns and communities to combat the brutal and oppressive system that is the cause of these problems


After doing this interview we were told via a comment from one of our readers here on Solidarity Times that “That property belongs to an elderly lady and it had fallen into disrepair due to ill health. This was not an eviction at all. These guys broke into this property and barricaded themselves in. The elderly lady’s godson didn’t know what to do so the Guards were called as of the brake in.”

In that context we went back to ask some follow up questions.

Q: Did the Garda tell you [the above] before they started to smash the door down?

Before the Gardai battered down the door there was no communication at all regarding the state of the owners health or age at the present time. If this had of been communicated then we would of seriously reconsidered our residency in the house. Although the fact that the house had been abandoned for over 3 years and was in a reasonable state for occupation means that as a point of principle we would not of disagreed with it being put to use by others.

Q: Is there a way to distinguish between property held by speculators and property simply abandoned by a single owner for a considerable length of time?

I am unaware as to how we could of found out if the house was owned by a landlord, property speculator or a single home owner. Our personal preference is to put to use properties legally owned by property tycoons or speculators but also we have no problem with people squatting the house of small scale landlords as these people are part of the cause of the housing crisis and the denial of basic rights to those without a home.

Q: Do you think its useful for housing campaigners to distinguish between property that may be vacant for these two different reasons?

On a personal level I prefer to put to use state property or houses of property tycoons to use. However that is a personal preference and I recognise that the small scale absentee landlordism rampant in Irish society is as much a problem as the large scale property tycoons. It plays an integral role in the monopolization of homes and the denial of housing to homeless families and individuals.

if the owner is a single home owner and we were aware if this we would not use their homes.

Interview by Solidarity Times – Free the Media, Be the Media