Dublin Housing Action Committee

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The Dublin Housing Action Committee was a 1960s protest group in response to housing shortages in Ireland's capital city.

The group arose in response to a serious shortage of affordable housing, combined with a large number of properties standing empty. It also functioned as a way for a broad range of left-wing actors in the Republic of Ireland to address themselves to a wider audience. This came at a time when Northern Ireland was still relatively peaceful, and a renewed IRA campaign would have seemed very unlikely.

The Secretary of the committee was Dennis Dennehy (then a member of the Irish Communist Organisation). He had been imprisoned for squatting and also went on hunger strike. After a large protest, he was released from prison and went on to help support an extensive program of squatting in private-owner properties.

Denis Dennehy's position as secretary was taken over by another homeless member Eamonn O'Fearghail, who along with other families was squatting in private property on Pembroke Road, opposite the American Embassy. He remained in that location until the eviction of the families from the two houses some years later. This major garda operation saw shields used by the force for the first time.[citation needed]

This action and the employment of the new Forcible Entry Act, signaled the end of the DHAC's campaign of housing homeless families in empty private houses.[citation needed]

Other prominent members were Sean MacStiofain (who would later join "Provisional" Sinn Féin after its 1970 split), Seán Ó Cionnaith, Proinsias De Rossa, and Eamonn McKenna (1936-2011) [1] who would join the Official Sinn Féin faction, Michael O'Riordan,[2] Mairin de Burca, Sam Nolan,[3] Margaret Gaj,[4] Bernard Brown (served as Chairman) and Fr. Austin Flannery.[5]

The DHAC called for a housing emergency to be declared, a prohibition on demolishing sound living accommodation, and an immediate halt to the building of prestige office blocks.[3]

The Squatter was a publication issued in 1969 by the Housing Committee.[6]

The DHAC also inspired similar campaigns, such as the Derry Housing Action Committee, the Limerick Housing Action Committee, and the Cork Housing Action Committee.[7] The latter organisation protested during a banquet held by the Taoiseach Jack Lynch, calling for Dennehy's release.[8] The CHAC and the LHAC led a picket on Limerick Prison after several members of the CHAC were imprisoned for protesting; the picket was led by the LHAC's chairman, Liam Gleeson. .[7]

The Committee was accused of being an 'IRA offshoot', [9] but this seems very unlikely although many Sinn Féin members were involved in the campaign. [1] Those involved took different and often critical attitudes towards the IRA when their campaign started.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "He [McKenna] was to the fore in the Dublin Housing Action Committee...".Obituary of Eamonn McKenna by Paul Dillon in Look Left magazine, Vol.2 Issue 10, P.19 .
  2. ^ Communism in Modern Ireland: The Pursuit of the Workers' Republic since 1916,by Mike Milotte, Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 1984 (p.241, 250-1).
  3. ^ a b Sam Nolan: A Long March on the Left by Brian Kenny. Personal History Publishing, Dublin, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9551258-3-6 pp. 58-60
  4. ^ "She [Gaj] supported the Dublin Housing Action Committee, an alliance of left-wing groups and concerned citizens which highlighted the need to address the capital city’s housing crisis." "Restaurant owner and left-wing campaigner" (Obituary of Margaret Gaj).Irish Times, 2 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  5. ^ Obituary of Fr. Austin Flannery.
  6. ^ The Squatter Issue 1 publication of the Dublin Housing Action Committee, 15 June 1969.
  7. ^ a b "Limerick Prison was picketed yesterday by members of the Cork Housing Action Committee and the Limerick Housing Action Committee". "Pickets on Limerick Prison", Irish Press, February 17th, 1969 (p.11)
  8. ^ Irish Times, 20 Jan. 1969 pg. 5
  9. ^ "Department of Justice mandarins viewed the Dublin Housing Action Committee as "an IRA offshoot". " Government urged to encourage split in IRA, Irish Times, 3 January 2000. Retrieved 4 March 2013.

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