James Connolly House: A Strike Against Free State Counter Revolution

Last week the Free State suffered an historic blow. Acting on behalf of the Salvation Army, a British cult well-known for its reactionary views, corruption and greed, eighty Gardaí, many of whom were armed, raided James Connolly House on Eden Quay and brought the residents to a holding cell on Store Street before dragging them before a Free State judge. The housing activists refused to play the court’s games, showing their complete contempt for the Counter Revolutionary legal system. Despite this flagrant disregard for their law, the judge refused to jail the activists and they walked free.

The Free State and The Salvation Army had left 12-14 Eden Quay vacant for fifteen months, a four storey building, with heating, water and electricity running. It was capable of comfortably housing many people and providing many services, but it was left unused while people regularly died from want of such necessities on the streets outside. The Revolutionary Workers’ Union, with the backing of other Socialist Republicans, acquisitioned the building and put it to use, housing those in need, including refugees, providing necessities to hundreds, and hosting a wide variety of events, including cultural, political and social events.

For nearly six weeks the previously abandoned building was a hive for progressives, radicals and the marginalised, drawing people from far and near and from all walks of life, united around a common sense that the current state of affairs urgently needs to change. It drew constant attention from outside, with the people of Dublin admiring the Starry Plough, the flag of the Irish Citizen Arny, flying high from the rooftop, alongside many banners and flags, with revolutionary slogans and expressing solidarity with struggles of the oppressed here and abroad.

Shortly after the building was acquisitioned the Salvation Army, for the first time, publicly claimed it was intending to refurbish the building in order to house Ukrainian refugees. When questioned on this in court, one activist said, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’. Another activist said they were not ‘clairvoyant’ and did not know of the Salvation Army’s alleged plans but they know that just about every money-grabbing landlord in the country will invent some such story in order to justify keeping ownership of vacant properties, of which they are 100,000s across the country. Court documentation also revealed that the landlords previously intended to house Afghan refugees in the building but these plans also came to nought. Perhaps there’s now been enough pressure, and the state contract will be fat enough, for the Salvation Army to put this fully functioning city centre building to use at last but only time will tell.

Knowing that the Free State forces were likely to raid the house most of the residents departed the building to the safety of another refuge aquisitioned by the RWU, and just two residents, who were willing to face the reactionary state forces, remained to resist the eviction. Eighty Gardaí, with a helicopter, several vans and weaponry, stormed the building, broke through the defensive barricades and forcibly removed the activists. An operation that must have cost the taxpayer 100,000s of euros managed to remove just two men, one of whom is in his seventies. A major show of strength that served only to demonstrate their weakness and fear in the face of resistance.

The administration – the committee of the rich, in Connolly’s words – has released two activists who had seized a property in the city centre, held it for forty days, openly declared their Socialist Republican politics, demonstrated their contempt for the state, defied multiple court orders, and paid no heed to the rules and regulations of the Free State court. It is clear that the rich man’s committee does not want James Connolly House to be the spark for a national housing movement. They do not want to put a match to a field of dry hay.

But the spark has been lit and the fire is ready to erupt.

On the centenary of its counter-revolution the Free State has still not consolidated its rule. It remains a puppet state for imperialist interests. The Irish people can only endure this shower of corrupt thieves lying to us and driving our country into the ground for so long. This ludicrously heavy-handed operation, followed by barely a slap on the wrist in the courts, demonstrates their terror at a revolutionary housing movement – a genuine people’s movement that isn’t content with begging for scraps outside Leinster House and jockeying for electoral positions.

In 1916 James Connolly led the resistance in Dublin against much the same forces that oppress our country today. For a generation Irish politics had been defined by pleading to Westminster for concessions and looking for positions in the colonial system. The 1916 Rising put a stop to that. The revolutionaries proclaimed the Irish Republic on their own authority and defended it with forces of arms. James Connolly House has also stood out for the politics of revolution, based on the authority and rights of the people. Let’s put an end to the shameful act of begging for a little more from our oppressors – they have long since demonstrated their contempt and disregard for us.

The pitiful state our people have been driven into due to the foreign domination of our land is alone enough justification to fight back. Let’s take back what’s rightfully ours and put a final end to this madness. Despite state repression, including two further arrests at another acquisition, the revolutionary housing action campaign has not faltered. All those looking to get involved with or support the campaign should get in touch with the RWU.

‘The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.’ – Patrick Pearse, 1915

‘“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be!’ – Rosa Luxembourg, 1919

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