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Resistance is Fertile – Full Bluebell Anti-Eviction Protest Report

09/06/12

Over the last three days, the people of Bluebell, a close-knit working class district on the banks of the Grand Canal in south Dublin, have demonstrated what the world ‘community’ really means.

On Tuesday, June 5, the Byrne family asked their community for help, to prevent their eviction from their home of twenty years the following day (June 6). Despite the very short notice the residents of Bluebell and surrounding areas turned out in force to answer the call for help.

When the bailiff from the Dublin City Sheriff’s office arrived, with Garda escort, on the morning of June 6 to evict the Byrne family he was met by with a protest of over 100 local residents. As previously reported on this site the bailiff wasn’t long beating a hasty retreat out of the area.

Wednesday evening

A phone call by éirígí Councillor Louise Minihan to the sheriff’s office confirmed that the bailiff could return at anytime to enforce a house repossession order on behalf of Ulster Bank. Determined to prevent this happening local residents and éirígí activists immediately began to organise a twenty-four hour vigil at the Byrne family home. Tents were erected in the Byrnes’ garden and a number of people were committed to an all night watch, allowing the family to get some much needed sleep.

Despite Thursday getting off to a wet start, the community was undeterred from showing their support to the Byrne Family. Torrential rain and wind were met with good humour and determination as residents joined a second day of the anti-eviction protest. Temporary gazebos were erected in the garden to protect people from the worst of the weather and to show the bailiffs that the protest was ongoing. Other members of the community showed their support by providing tea, coffee, sandwiches, and garden furniture. Throughout the day the Byrne home had a steady stream of people calling to offer their support and help. As the protest passed the twenty-four mark Ulster Bank contacted Darren to arrange a meeting to discuss his case. Eviction, it now appeared, was not the only option open to the bank.

In the gazebo

Accompanied by Councillor Minihan, Darren Byrne met with representatives of Ulster Bank on Friday afternoon to discuss Darren’s case. The outcome of that meeting saw the repossession order postponed, pending the outcome of further discussions between the Byrne family and the bank. It is now hoped that a resolution can be reached that will allow the Byrnes to stay on in their family home on a permanent basis. The Byrne family and the people of Bluebell had won an important victory. They had shown that it was possible for a community to take a stand and win.

Speaking from Bluebell Councillor Minihan said, “Today the Byrne family and the people of Bluebell have won an important victory – a clear case of people power winning out over banking power. The Byrne family have taken a stand not only for themselves, but also for families all across Ireland who are struggling to pay their rent and mortgages. For that they are to be commended.

“When more than a hundred local residents joined the first anti-eviction protest it was clear that the people of Bluebell were not going to allow the bank to put a family onto the street without a fight. Over the last number of days Darren and his family have received huge levels of support and assistance from the people of Bluebell and beyond. Hundreds of people have called into the house to pledge their support, while thousands more have done so via Facebook and other social media.”

Cllr Louise Minihan outside the Byrne home

Councillor Minihan continued by highlighting the fact that the threat of eviction has not yet been permanently lifted, “While today’s decision by the bank represents a victory for common sense, the Byrne family and the Bluebell community, it is by no means a final victory. The protests that were organised over the last few days were designed to firstly prevent the eviction and secondly create a window of calm for discussions to take place between the Byrne family and the bank. That window has now been created.

“The Byrne family are hopeful that a satisfactory resolution can now be reached with the bank, which will allow them to stay in their family home on a permanent basis. But should the bank fail to take the opportunity that is now open to them I am sure that the people of Bluebell will be only too willing to take to the streets again to defend the Byrne family home.”

Cllr Minihan concluded by offering support to others in mortgage and rent arrears, “I want to encourage those who are facing similar circumstances to the Byrne family to talk to their families, friends and neighbours about their problems. You will find that they are only too willing to help you. There is no shame in the situation you find yourself in. Agencies like the Citizen Information Centre and the Money Advice & Budgeting Service are also there to help. For our part, we in éirígí are willing to offer what help we can to families who are facing eviction from their homes.”

 

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