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Squatting in the Republic of Ireland is the occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner. In the 1960s, the Dublin Housing Action Committee highlighted the housing crisis by squatting buildings. From the 1990s onwards there have been occasional political squats in Cork and Dublin such as Grangegorman, the Barricade Inn, the Bolt Hostel, Connolly Barracks, That Social Centre and James Connolly House.

The legality of squatting in Ireland

Dublin Housing Action Committee's campaigning in the late 1960s resulted in some successes but also the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Act of 1971, which criminalized squatting.[1] Squatters can gain title to land and property by adverse possession as governed by the 1957 Statute of Limitations Act.[2] An occupant is entitled to apply to the Property Registration Authority for legal possession provided they are in continuous and uninterrupted occupation of the property without the permission of the owner for 12 years.[3] If the land is owned by the state the period is 30 years.[2] In 2004, a squatter who had occupied a building for 16 years was unable to gain title because the owner had been paying for insurance on the house, while in 2008 radio presenter Pat Kenny failed to gain title to land owned by his neighbour.[2][4]


Squatting in Ireland was mentioned in letters in 1846, but by 1870 the issue was said to be in the past.[5][6] Irish Travellers wanted houses in the Republic of Ireland in the 1970s and used squatting as a tactic to gain them.[7] The Dublin Housing Action Committee (DHAC) was active between 1968 and 1971. It would occupy buildings to protest the housing crisis and support those who were imprisoned. Dennis Dennehy had previously squatted in Birmingham and London. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1969 after occupying 20 Mountjoy Square the previous year.[8] When he decided to go on hunger strike, it galvanised protests over housing. There were nightly marches to Mountjoy Prison and blockades of O'Connell Bridge. The Dublin Trades Council supported him and President Éamon de Valera was heckled.[9] Later in 1969, three men were imprisoned after the eviction of the Carlton Hotel on Harcourt Street and five activists barricaded themselves inside a room at the Four Courts.[9]

Many young people emigrated from Ireland in the 1980s and squatted in London.[10] In Dublin, there was a political squat on Arran Quay in 1995.[2]


Housing activists occupied a building on Parnell Square, Dublin in July 2003 which they labelled "Disco Disco" but were evicted within 24 hours.[11] From 2003 to 2004 the Magpie Squat was a residential space which housed activists on Upper Leeson Street. It had a library and a vegetable garden.[11] Seomra Spraoi, an anarchist, rented, self-managed social center, opened its doors in 2004 and ran until 2015.[12][13]


In the 2010s, with the construction of ghost estates across the country there was a rise in occupations in rural areas. A man in Tullamore, County Offaly defeated a claim for possession in court when the judge saw the improvements he had made to his squat, on an empty estate.[14] Activists from Occupy Cork squatted a National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) building in Cork at Christmas 2011, with the intention of using it as a community resource centre.[15]

Grangegorman squat and Barricade Inn

Photograph capturing the moment when the Garda Siochana arrive to carry out evictions at the Grangegorman squat
The Barricade Inn
Emblem used on the inside of the Barricade Inn
Emblem used on the inside of the Barricade Inn
The outside of the Barricade Inn
The outside of the Barricade Inn
The Barricade Inn on Parnell Street operated for roughly one year between 2015 and 2016

Dublin hosted the 2014 International Squatter Convergence, which had previously been held in cities such as Brighton, Dijon, Berlin and Leeds. Events were hosted by Seomra Spraoi.[16] In 2013 a new squat known as "The Grangegorman squat" emerged; Its presence was not generally known until 2015 when it successfully resisted evictions for a time.[17] The news of the successful resistance spread across social media[18] and international news.[19] The squat was publicly supported by the Lord Mayor Christy Burke[20] and by Irish Times journalist Una Mullally,[21] before being evicted in 2016, with the site later developed into student accommodation for those attending Dublin IT.[2] A building which once housed Neary's Hotel on Parnell Street in Dublin's north inner city, was occupied in 2015 and renamed The Barricade Inn by the squatters.[22][23] The Inn, operated by Anarchists aligned with the Workers Solidarity Movement, housed over two dozen residents who also operated a cafe and music venue from the building. Following a court order, The Barricade Inn and its residents were evicted by court order in February 2016.[11]

Illegal evictions also occur, such as a 2015 case in which three men were convicted of false imprisonment.[24]

Debtors' Prison

In August 2016, a group of squatters which had been recently evicted from a nearby Grangegorman squat complex, began occupying the Debtors' Prison in Dublin's north inner city with the stated aim of converting the building into a community art space.[25][26][27] Having occupied the building, the State announced that the squatters had to vacate, citing health and safety concerns.[26] The occupants sought support and cooperation from the Office of Public Works, as well as the local community with their stated intention being to restore the building and open the ground floor "for exhibitions and walking tours which would highlight social injustices from the past until today". In mid-August 2016, an injunction was granted against the squatters, with an order for them to vacate the building by midnight on Sun 21 August 2016. The squatters were threatened with jail time if they did not leave the premises.[26]

Bolt Hostel

During the summer of 2015, left-wing housing activists took over a youth hostel in Dublin's North Inner City that had been deemed "not fit for purpose" by Dublin City Council three years previously and shut down. The property had sat vacant awaiting an upgrade, a status the activists deemed unconscionable due to the shortage of housing in Dublin. The activists attempted to re-activate the building, located on Bolton Street and referred to as the "Bolt Hostel", but were made to leave the premise a number of weeks later following a court order.[28][29] At the time of the court order, the Council claimed it was "ironic" that the activists felt the need to occupy the building, because the council said they had already secured planning permission to redevelop the building. However, by 2019 no such development had taken place and the possibility of the building being sold for a token amount of money to a local housing charity was being openly discussed.[30]

Apollo House and the "Home Sweet Home" campaign

Apollo House during its brief but high-profile occupation in December 2016

In December 2016 Apollo House, a 9-storey office block in Dublin City Centre, was taken over by squatters who attempted to convert it into a homeless shelter. The building, which had previously been used as office space for various companies, had fallen under the control of National Asset Management Agency by 2016 in the wake of the Post-2008 Irish economic downturn. A large group of activists working under the banner of "Home Sweet Home" occupied the building and subsequently housed over 200 homeless in the building during the Christmas period. The occupation drew considerable national attention in Ireland and drew the support of many high-profile Irish artists such as Glen Hansard, Christy Dignam, Jim Sheridan,[31] Kodaline, Hozier,[32] Damien Dempsey, John Connors and Saoirse Ronan[33] as well as political parties such as Sinn Féin. In January 2017 a court ordered the residents to leave the premises, which they did voluntarily on 12 January without incident.[34] In the years immediately following, Apollo House was bought and demolished by a property developer.[35]

Connolly Barracks in Cork City

In August 2017 members of the Connolly Youth Movement in Cork City began a squat in the Mardyke area, not far from University College Cork, which was later dubbed "Connolly Barracks".[36][37][38] Alex Homits of CYM cited the occupation of Apollo House as inspiring the move.[39] In contrast to anarchist squats, the residents of Connolly Barracks tout that the building is run under an extremely strict set of rules, reflecting the Marxist–Leninist orientation of the Connolly Youth Movement. The use of the term "Barracks" was chosen to mirror this mentality.[36][39] As of 2022, it is still in operation.


That Social Centre in Stoneybatter

On 12 September 2021 a group began squatting a building that had laid vacant for 10 years in the Stoneybatter neighbourhood of Dublin.[40] The group began operating "That Social Centre" aka "Sunnyvale"; offering free services such as a cafe and a bike repair shop. Five weeks later, on the morning of 27 October, a large group of private security guards, in view of some despatched Gardaí, attempted to evict the squatters from the premises. A fracas ensued that was captured on video and then posted to social media. Although the security guards were able to enter the squat and destroy the interior, a counter-demonstration quickly mounted what almost devolved into a riot, at which point the Gardaí moved to break up the two groups and sent the security guards away.[41] By that evening, the squatters re-entered the building and a large crowd gathered to support them.[40][41][42] The incident prompted much discussion within Irish media, with many newspapers suggesting the incident was a symptom of a deepening housing crisis in Ireland and Dublin in particular.[42][43] In late November 2021 a high court judge ordered the squatters to leave the property and subsequently the squat was ended.[44] The group subsequently occupied a space in Phibsborough, which took on the "That Social Centre" name, distinguished from the previous "Sunnyvale" squat as "Shopfronts" due to it being composed partially of several dilapidated shopfronts in Phibsborough. The Shopfronts squat was vacated over the Christmas 2023 period as it became clear legal proceedings were rapidly reaching a similar result [45]

Connolly House on Eden Quay

In May 2022 a socialist republican group called the Revolutionary Workers Union (RWU) seized a property on Eden Quay in Dublin and dubbed it "James Connolly House". The group claimed to refurbish the building, which they said was derelict, and were operating it as a homeless shelter amongst other uses. The Times reported that the building was owned by the Salvation Army who claimed the building was in the process of being refurbished for use by refugees from the Russo-Ukrainian War. The Salvation Army criticised the RWU for disrupting their work while the RWU claimed there was no evidence that the building was being refurbished before their arrival.[46][47] In late May the High Court ruled that the squatters must leave[48] and in early June, after the RWU said they would not abide by the order, they were evicted by the Garda Síochána.[49]

Revolutionary Housing League

Main article: Revolutionary Housing League

Following the events on Eden Quay, the Revolutionary Workers Union created a new organisation called the Revolutionary Housing League, whose primary function is to create squats as a political tactic.[50] Since June 2022, the organisation has created several squats, primarily in Dublin, although these are usually short-lived, as their tactic of publicising their actions often results in a rapid response from An Garda Siochana.

See also


  1. ^ Murray, Thomas (18 August 2016). Contesting Economic and Social Rights in Ireland: Constitution, State and Society, 1848–2016. Cambridge University Press. p. 307. ISBN 978-1-107-15535-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e Donnellan, Grace (21 April 2019). "Precarious Living: Squatters' rights in Ireland". University Observer. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  3. ^ Independent Woman (19 September 2007). "Squatters' rights to be reviewed – Property, Unsorted". Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  4. ^ Finn, Christina (20 November 2014). "Galway man denied squatters' rights after living in house for 16 years". The Journal. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  5. ^ Foster, Thomas Campbell (1846). Letters on the Condition of the People of Ireland. Chapman and Hall. p. 706.
  6. ^ a Close Observer of Long Local Experience, and One who Has Had Opportunities of World-wide Comparisons, Etc (1870). The Irish Land Question, Impartially Considered. p. 88.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Gmelch, Sharon Bohn; Gmelch, George (2014). Irish Travellers: The Unsettled Life. Indiana University Press. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-253-01461-0.
  8. ^ McEneaney, Sinead (14 May 2019). "Political commemoration and housing protest in Ireland: A lesson from the 1960s". History Workshop. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b Murray, Thomas (18 August 2016). Contesting Economic and Social Rights in Ireland: Constitution, State and Society, 1848–2016. Cambridge University Press. pp. 294, 305, 306. ISBN 978-1-107-15535-0.
  10. ^ Lalor, Francesca (25 April 2019). "The Squat Generation: Documentary On Newstalk". Newstalk. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  11. ^ a b c McDermott, Fiachradh. "The short history of squatting in Dublin: Rejecting consumerism and being 'a bit punk'". The Journal. Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  12. ^ "Seomra Spraoi". Poster Fish Promotions. 9 June 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  13. ^ O'Callaghan, Cian; Lawton, Thaddeus (2016). "Temporary solutions? Vacant space policy and strategies for re-use in Dublin". Irish Geography. 48 (1).
  14. ^ Claire O'Brien (15 October 2011). "Squatter told he can stay in NAMA ghost estate home – National News". Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  15. ^ O'Connell, Brian (7 January 2012). "Occupy Nama: the protesters' latest strategy". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  16. ^ Creed, Barry (26 September 2014). "Squatters from around the world gather in Dublin". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 11 August 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  17. ^ Dan Griffin. "Squatter Supporters hurt in Grangegorman stand off". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  18. ^ Aoife Barry. "Grangegorman squatters welcome "victory" as they resist eviction". The Journal. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  19. ^ "Residents resist eviction, clash with police in Dublin suburb". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Lord Mayor Praises Squatters Work". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  21. ^ Una Mullally. "The Grangegorman Squat". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  22. ^ Sylvia Thompson (29 October 2015). "Squatters bring life to old buildings". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 30 October 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  23. ^ Sheils, Conor (1 November 2015). "Ireland's most famous squatters are facing eviction". The Journal. Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Three men sentenced over forced eviction for landlord". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  25. ^ "Squatters ordered to leave derelict former Dublin prison". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  26. ^ a b c Fitzgerald, Cormac (23 August 2016). ""This makes us homeless" - Tough choices lie ahead for squatters in abandoned Dublin prison". Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  27. ^ Managh, Ray (22 August 2016). "Squatters living in derelict Dublin prison face jail terms". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  28. ^ Kavanagh, Cathal (17 August 2016). "What's Going on Now with the Bolt Hostel?". Dublin Inquirer. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  29. ^ Murphy, Damien; Kapila, Lois (8 July 2015). "Can City Council Team Up with Radical Housing Activists?". Dublin Inquirer. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  30. ^ Kapila, Lois (13 March 2019). "Council Briefs: The Future of the "Bolt Hostel", and Student Housing on Parnell Street". Dublin Inquirer. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  31. ^ "'Homeless crisis has worsened since Apollo House demonstration' - campaigners". Irish Independent. 17 December 2017.
  32. ^ Quinlan, Ronald (26 November 2018). "Marlet set to pay over €77m an acre for Apollo House site". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  33. ^ Cullen, Paul (18 December 2016). "Apollo House protesters to meet owners over occupation". Irish Times. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  34. ^ Holland, Kitty (12 January 2017). "Homeless and activists leave Apollo House amid emotional scenes". Irish Times. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  35. ^ Kelly, Olivia (7 May 2020). "Hawkins House, one of Dublin's ugliest buildings, finally set to be demolished". Irish Times. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  36. ^ a b Malekmian, Shamim (22 January 2020). "Special Report: Inside Cork's Connolly Barracks". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  37. ^ "The occupied Connolly Barracks enters its 15th month". Morning Star. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  38. ^ Connolly Youth Movement (15 April 2018). "Connolly Barracks".
  39. ^ a b Rebel Matters Podcast. Ep 36: Alex Homits Talks about Connolly Barracks, Capitalism, and The Left. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  40. ^ a b Young, Pariesa (29 October 2021). "'They broke in using brute force': Irish activists protest attempted eviction from vacant building". France 24. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  41. ^ a b O'Brien, Mark (27 October 2021). "Protesters gather after alleged eviction in city centre". Dublin Live. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  42. ^ a b "the property had been used as a squat by a group of activists". Newstalk. 28 October 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  43. ^ Pollak, Sorcha (3 November 2021). "Is Dublin city losing its cultural soul?". Irish Times. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  44. ^ "Alleged squatters ordered by High Court to leave Stoneybatter property". Irish Times. 24 November 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  45. ^ "Court orders alleged trespassers to vacate adjoining Dublin properties". 30 December 2023. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  46. ^ O’Donoghue, Patrick (4 May 2022). "Activists squat in hostel meant for Ukrainian refugees". The Times. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  47. ^ O’Donoghue, Patrick (6 May 2022). "Squat in hostel meant for Ukrainian refugees is 'radically wrong'". The Times. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  48. ^ McGarry, Patsy (23 May 2022). "Workers group occupying Eden Quay property to defy court order". Irish Times. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  49. ^ O'Faolain, Aodhan (9 June 2022). "Salvation Army regains building earmarked for Ukrainian refugees after Garda operation". Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  50. ^ Dunne, Alex (26 September 2022). "Homeless activists arrested after gardai evict group from vacant city centre building". Retrieved 21 September 2023. The League, itself an offshoot of the Revolutionary Workers Union, have previously occupied a number of vacant buildings, including the Iveagh Markets, a derelict building on Eden Quay, and Dublin 8 apartments that were being redeveloped for elderly people.