Galwayman leads Dublin campaign to occupy empty NAMA buildings

A 27-year-old Galwayman is leading a campaign to occupy houses and buildings owned by NAMA to highlight the fact that thousands sleep rough while there are thousands of empty homes across the country.

Liam Mac An Bhaird, who has connections with the international Occupy movement is the driving force behind the plan to occupy homes which are lying empty and which have no prospect of being sold or rented in the immediate future.

"There are thousands homeless in this country with about 2,000 on the streets of Dublin alone tonight. Yet across the city there are thousands of flats, apartments, homes lying empty – some could be fit for human habitation.

"Our occupation is a way of making a point about the system we are living under. These properties could lie vacant for up to 10 years or more – so why not put homeless people into them?"

Mr Mac An Bhaird and others are currently living in a house in Dublin that was on the market for €500,000 at the height of the boom, but which is now worth less thatn €200,000.

“"I have been arguing in the Occupy movement that we need to take over Nama-owned properties in Dublin to highlight the injustice of a system where billions were pumped into banks that lent property speculators so much money," he said.

"Ultimately we should be talking about moving a large number of people into one of our 'ghost estates', which otherwise will lie and rot."

He said that the discipline of the Occupy movement has led them to enforce rules on the behaviour of the squatters.

"There are no drugs or drink tolerated in these places during our occupations because we are making a political stand. It is also wholly non-violent, like the Occupy movement. And we do not take anything that doesn't belong to us in the properties we squat in."

He explained that they survive by "skip diving" – reclaiming the uneaten, unused food discarded every day by major supermarket chains. He said that the group soon aim to embark on a spectacular project by occupying a major Gpovernment-owned building in Dublin. He believes this will test the attitude of the authorities.

"It will be interesting to see if they are prepared to put homeless people out of the building, given that it is owned by the State and hence the people, and given that will be likely to lie empty for years," he adds.


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