By Oisín O’Rimhea
Im going to tell you two stories of people power that I was privy to over the last two weeks. One a message to our authority and the other a message to council; both messages to our government that the people are in control, we’ve been nice for so long but its time to take a stand. Im sure some of you maybe aware of Alan Kellys visit to Bluebell the other week to open up a new social housing project. Do you know what happened that day when the protesters went down to speak their mind to the sinister minister Alan Kelly. Like all protests we arrange, all went peacefully, that was until it was time for Kelly to leave and the Public Order Unit (POU) goons gears up to attack. Attack who? Terrorist? people set to assassinate the sinister minister? No. We were a cavalcade of mothers, students and children.
What started out as 15 protesters against 20 uniformed garda turned into 15 protesters against 20 uniformed garda; and a further 15 of the POU. Any of you who are familiar with the POU know very well what the gestapo are like. They come in unnumbered and unfazed with there truncheons; swing first ask questions later. We stuck to the usual routine, chants, placards and obstruction. How do they react? the same as usual. Throwing women to the ground, pushing and punching the men, all abiding to the wishes of Kelly. As always; we turned the other cheek, we stayed above their law. Eventually Kelly got away but then it was the POUs turn to leave. This to me is the biggest mile stone of this movement. The face of the bullies, the brute force that is the unknown POUs. They tried to leave and due to the actions towards us during the day, they weren’t aloud. We said no and after the superintendent threatening arrest to everyone with a pulse in the area and making an utter show of themselves; they gave in. Due to the power of the people the POU were forced to abandon there vehicles and made to walk back to Kilmainham, 15 POUs being marched down the Naas road by the people. We reminded them who calls the shots. To me that is one of the biggest victories we have overcome during this movement.
Some times it feels that the average citizen cannot make a dent in the way our governments works, or that we can’t “stick it to the man” and get stuff done; well we can. Its called people power. Some times the people can take small steps in the right direction, remind those on top who really calls the shots. It may only be baby steps must one must learn to walk before they can run. A story unfolded today that you will not see on mainstream media; why is that? Because we won, the people took a stand and the people made a difference. In the last two weeks a number of families came to the Dublin City Council for emergency accommodation and they were subsequently turned away because they werent classed as an “emergency”. To top it off they were given sleeping bags and sent on their way. One of these families consisted of a one year old child and the mother; who was six months pregnant. In this day and age it makes me sick that this can happen and whats worse is that this in one case out of 100. 22 million euro was pumped into emergency housing yet the best they can do is offer up a sleeping bag, all of the derelict building lying unused just to simply rot away and they have the neck to tell us there is no houses? These families are not looking for flat screen TVs and a swimming pool, they want a roof over their heads, a sense of security, dignity; they want there integrity restored. It is not just a house they are being refused, they are being refused a life, the right to be happy. To there children grow up in a normal environment; no child should spend the most vital years of there life wondering why mammy and daddy sit on the streets or sleep in the door way? enough is enough.
Thanks to the organization and the dedication of one man; Eoin Donegan, and the help of groups such as The Hub Ireland, The Anti-Eviction Task Force and North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis. It was arranged that we go with the families and demand they be housed, so we geared up and prepared for a night long occupation of the DCC building. A demonstration was held in the lobby of the building untill we got a meeting with Dick Brady; after an hour or so of making some noise and speaking our mind we got our wish. Eoin, Seamus and Aishling spoke on behalf of the families there today; who were all refused emergency accommodation. The families there held their ground out side the CEOs office from 2 until 7. Deliberation took a little over 2 hours until we came to an agreement; it was arranged that the families would all be housed in a B&B of their choosing; in their comfort zone and near their childrens schools; sadly for one night. All of which was paid for in full by the Dublin City Corporation. One night is not enough but it is better then them sleeping on the streets. We will be back, next time we will have more families, we will stay longer, they will get more then one night; they will get a home. Have you ever heard the saying “You may have won the battle but you have not one the war”? Well, in this context it seems fitting to say that today a battle was won but the war is yet to start. The small yet victorious efforts of everyone involved today goes to show that we can make a mark. We can make a difference, all it takes is people power, will and the guts to stand up to the proverbial “man”. These families were told they cant get a bed for the night and the people said otherwise, what happened? the people won. It is happenings like these that give people the hope that we are not all bound by the upper classes politico means, that we can take back control of our Dublin City. Chipping away, chipping away.