Activists in Cork call to Take Back the City

Ellie O'Byrne

A Cork group which has been occupying a building near University College Cork for more than a year has called for more occupations of vacant properties as part of the ‘Take Back the City’ movement.

Members of Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) manned an information stall outside Bishop Lucey Park on Saturday, as one of 21 nationwide demonstrations under the Take Back The City campaign.

Activists Kevin Cashman, James O'Connell, Ollie McMorrow, Tom Dowdall and Luna Torresel Rave, all of the Connolly Youth Movement, at the 'Take Back Our City' event at Bishop Lucey Park, Cork. Picture: David Keane.

In Dublin, an estimated 1,000 people held a sit-down protest on O’Connell Street and O’Connell Bridge.

No protest was held in Cork, with activists saying they plan to attend the “Raise the Roof for Housing” rally at Leinster House on October 3.

CYM are a communist youth group based in UCC. As well as their current occupation, they were evicted from another property they were occupying at the end of July, more than a week before Dublin protesters began their first sit-in in the capital, at Summerhill.

“We will not wait for this government to take action anymore,” CYM spokesman Ollie McMorrow said.

“Instead we will take direct action, and we are urging others to do the same.”

Mr McMorrow said the occupations, designed to highlight dereliction rates amidst the housing crisis, were a “civic responsibility.”

“This government has chosen to allow the homeless population to reach 10,000 by refusing to build adequate public housing,” he said.

“It has sold off public land to private developers and chosen not to close loopholes that allow exploitation of tenants.

“This is about showing that just because the law is the law, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always right. Sometimes it needs to be changed.”

However, just a handful of members of the public braved the rain to attend the demonstration in Cork on Saturday. Amongst them were Tracey Burke, who lives in the city.

“I’m here because I’ve been watching this happening all around the country,” Ms Burke said.

“People think that the homeless are all drunk or on drugs, but this is happening to middle-class, respectable, educated people,” she said.

“And I am worried this is only the beginning of homelessness.”

Also attending, Workers’ Party Cork City Councillor Ted Tynan said he didn’t take issue with the illegality of the housing activists’ occupations.

“I would question that interpretation of it,” Mr Tynan said.

The housing emergency itself is a form of institutionalised violence and should be illegal.

“People are coming to me who are squashing their whole family into box rooms. There are slums reminiscent of what you’d see 100 years ago in Cork now.”

This story originally appeared in the Evening Echo

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