Empty Dublin hostel is taken over by activists group
Gardai have been alerted to a group of activists who have taken over a city centre hostel.
The Irish Housing Network have taken over the Dublin City Council-owned property on Bolton Street.
There was a stand-off with gardai last Friday, but the activists are still there.
The property, which has been empty since 2012, was granted planning permission in January which would have seen it turned into a hostel for the homeless.
The Irish Housing Network, a collection of nine housing groups established in May, said that so far nothing had been done and as a result they had reclaimed the property with the aim of renovating it themselves.
"We had 60 or 70 people turn up on Friday to support it with maybe 50 people outside with banners," said activist Seamus Farrell (23).
"The gardai came, and we've already been in touch with Dublin City Council who have said they won't evict us, they want to meet with us and negotiate."
The group plans to house homeless families and couples inside the revamped property, and there has already been strong demand.
"We've had families with children come and view it as well as couples. It needs to be checked out in terms of construction and social workers," said Mr Farrell.
The issue of homelessness across the city has been a political headache for the Government since last year.
Homelessness services will cost Dublin City Council €68m this year.
The Government allocated €35m in funding last year, but the council says it needs an extra €18.5m to provide the services required.
"The Government said a lot but have done absolutely nothing and they've seen this crisis get a lot worse," said Mr Farrell. "The homeless situation is getting worse, we're seeing it directly.
"We've got to a point now where they're actually rejecting families and telling them to take sleeping bags."
Prompt action to tackle the housing crisis was promised last December following the death of homeless man Jonathan Corrie in a doorway near the Dail.
"A lot of words were promised at that stage. A lot of action groups that were set up voluntarily had felt quite positive before Christmas about help coming, but since then it has become quite hardened," said Mr Farrell.
Dublin City Council is expected to discuss the Bolton Street hostel takeover with the group this week.