Big progress for radical housing campaign

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By Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland

On May 1, 2022, International Workers Day, the Revolutionary Workers Council fired the opening shots of a new Irish Housing War in Dublin, when in passed an acquisition order on a long vacant building situated at 12-14 Eden Quay, opened the building to provide housing to those in need and renamed the building James Connolly House, after the great Socialist Republican leader executed by British Imperialism in 1916.

Immediately, the housing work of the RWU was different. From the beginning, the Union, backed by Socialist Republicans including AIA, made clear that any attempt at eviction would be resisted, and that Free State Court orders would not be complied with. A gauntlet was being thrown down to the state. It was clear that the Housing acquisition was not an act of charity, but a Revolutionary Political Action, designed to shine a much-needed light on capitalism’s deliberate policy of housing undersupply and homelessness to drive up profits for landlords and imperialist vultures.

The Political rallies and meetings organised by the RWU in James Connolly House, quickly demonstrated that there were strong levels of support for the direct action that had been taken in the capital city. As a result, in June 2022, the RWUC announced that it was establishing the Revolutionary Housing League as a new arm of the Union to mobilise supporters into fighting the Housing War. Since then, the RHL has grown into league with hundreds of members in Dublin alone, and support growing throughout the 32 counties.

The RHL is growing because it is putting it up to the state, landlords and vultures in a very direct way and outlining that only a Revolutionary Republican solution as part of the wider campaign against capitalism and imperialism in Ireland can address Housing to the benefit of all People. The RHL is also willing to demonstrate its metal when needed. Since the High Court Case in James Connolly House, 10 RHL activists have been before the courts. In the cases where the high court has attempted to order them to give undertakings not to acquisition buildings, the RHL activists have refused, resulting in contempt of court, but the Free State, as of yet, has been afraid of jailing housing activists engaged in a housing war the establishment would prefer would go away.

In the months since May 1, the RWU and RHL have demonstrated that this is not merely stunt politics. They have demonstrated that while others talk, they take action. Most importantly the RWU/RHL have demonstrated that the campaign will continue, having taken at least 4 further vacant buildings in the city, providing housing for those in need. Having lit the spark in May, they are now nurturing that spark into a flame. Most recently the RHL had acquisitioned Ionad Séan Heuston on Parkgate Street in Dublin 8 owned by the hated property developer Joe O’Reilly who attempted to destroy our Revolutionary history at Moore St. It was here, on the banks of the Liffey that first gave life to Dublin City, in the shadow of the Free State’s Courts of Injustice, that the RHL opened an emergency Homeless Shelter that provided safe accommodation for upwards of 50 homeless people, including dozens of refugees thrown onto the streets by the Free State.

Again here, the RHL demonstrated their metal by directly confronting the private security mercenaries who attempted surveillance or evict residents from the Ionad, resulting in one security company withdrawing its services, and the other refusing to attend the location without being backed up by the Free State’s Police.

Growing Militancy

The months since May have also been important to note the growing militancy in the tactics of the RWU/RHL in the Housing War. Alongside the confronting of private mercenaries of the landlords and vultures, and physical struggles against the Police, the growing movement has also begun to target others that seek to profit from the criminal housing policies of the establishment. When the Free State’s High Court granted an injunction to Davy’s, the RHL marched straight to the offices of Davy’s on Dawson Street, occupied it and sent a clear message that anyone targeting homeless people would themselves be targeted. The group then marched on to the offices of ByrneWallace, solicitors for Davy’s and the developers, where a second protest was held. ByrneWallace were described by the RHL spokesperson on the day as akin to the Land Agents that acted on behalf of the absentee English landlords, targeting the Irish People during the Land War, and that all who attempt to profit in from today’s eviction industry should receive the same treatment as the land agents of old.

But the growing militancy of the Housing Movement was most clearly demonstrated on Saturday September 24 in Dublin. Believing that the electoral system will change nothing and only upholds the current system, the RWUC called a Revolutionary Bloc to resist the Cost of living crisis. At a conservative estimate more then 50 Anti Capitalists, made up of Republicans, socialists, Trade unionists, housing activists and independents gathered at the James Connolly Monument to hear speeches from AIA, the RHL, Sꜵradh and an Independent that made clear the so called Cost of Living crisis was Capitalism working as it was designed to and that the only solution to the crisis could be a revolutionary one. Those gathered were told that it was pointless to march to empty capitalist parliaments begging for crumbs and instead direct action needed to be taken.

The militant demonstration then made its way from the Connolly Monument to John Rogersons Quay chanting slogans including High rent, High Tax, Stand up, Fight Back and ‘One solution, Revolution. The march stopped outside Block C of 77 John Rogersons Quay, and the crowd were told this was the offices of Black Water, the mercenary firm acting for the developers against Ionad Sean Heuston. A number of masked protestors then stepped out of the crowd and to roaring cheers, fired paint at the building. The crowd was then told that anyone involved in evictions or targeting the homeless would be met with the same resistance.

Growing Support

It is also important to note the growing support of the RHL. Since May hundreds of people have been mobilised into the campaign across a broad base of the militant left, revolutionary republicans and independents, but also students, trade unionists and working class and homeless people themselves. The RHL has developed solid links with homeless outreach workers and the soup kitchens who feed and clothe the Homeless and needy 365 days of the year. Gigs organised by the RHL now regularly attract hundreds of people who clearly identify with the revolutionary strategy of the campaign, and reformist and constitutional politicians, ever keen for votes are now starting to mention the RHL campaign, some offering it support, and others roundly condemning it. The campaign has broken into the mainstream media and the RHL has put homelessness, housing need, empty homes and properties firmly on the national agenda from an unrepentantly revolutionary Republican stance. For a campaign that is only 5 months old, that is significant progress.

The Role of AIA

AIA has supported the work of the RWUC and the RHL from the beginning. Our activists play a central role in the campaign alongside others. AIA is fully committed to the Housing War against landlords and vultures as part of the wider fight for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution in Ireland. We play a role in this campaign in much the same way that Socialist Republican activists played a role in the Housing Action committees of the 1960s. Every win for the RHL is a win for the wider anti imperialist struggle in Ireland. In the words of the veteran Irish Socialist Republican Seán Doyle, a member of the RWUC, ‘Wherever there is an injustice, you will find a Socialist Republican to resist it!’

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