Occupy squatters plan to be ‘an example to the country’
The group occupying Stapleton House on Oliver Plunkett Street plans to "squat legally" in the building and has set up a limited company in order to achieve this, according to a spokesperson.
Despite a visit on Tuesday from a representative of the building's owner along with the Gardaí, resulting in a confrontation with members of the group, they will remain in situ.
A number of Occupy Cork protesters are among the group squatting in the six-storey 2,300sqm building. They plan to turn it into a community resource centre, says spokesperson Liam Mullaney, who said he hoped it would be "an example to the rest of the country".
However, they may be removed from the property if the owner of the building seeks a court order.
Other members of the original Occupy Cork movement remain at Grand Parade / South Mall and are not part of the new group.
A representative of the owner visited the property on Tuesday accompanied by gardaí, according to Mr Mullaney, who said he acted in “a very rude and aggressive manner”. Gardaí did not attempt to remove the squatters, who say they did not use force to enter the building.
“It’s a crying shame that that they had to get the guards down to this,” he added.
The group jokingly claimed in a video on YouTube that Santa left keys to the building, as well as instructions, under a Christmas tree at their camp at the Peace Park on Christmas Day.
Members of the group entered the building and have remained there since.
The group plans for the centre, which will be called the Cork City Community Resource Centre, to be opened on Monday 23 January, with an open day before that.
Plans include a community resource centre including classrooms, spaces for training, an alternative music school and recording space, a health, healing and nutrition space run voluntarily by experts and a library and bookshop.
There will also be free internet access for the public, a pop-up charity café inspired by local restaurateur Seamus O’Connell and a community crèche.
One member of the group, Pat Buckley hopes to use space in the building to start free counselling and suicide prevention services. Let’s Get Together was set up by Pat Buckley, after he lost two of his brothers to suicide in 2002 and 2003.
It is understood the building is linked to a loan held by NAMA, but the agency says it considers the building to be the responsibility of the owner, who it's thought owns a number of vacant premises in the city centre.
In a statement the group said the “building will be used as a true civic space, run by the people, for the people with the resources that belong to the people. Although previously held by NAMA, this building now is returned to the public."
The group have set up a website which sets out their aims and posted a video which shows some members moving from the original Occupy Cork camp to the building.
On the video, one member of the group says: "NAMA has spoken about social dividend all year and we have seen little or none of this materialising."
There will be a céilí mór at the building this Sunday 8 January at 3pm. It will be a fundraiser for the group. Everyone is welcome, although people interested in attending must contact the group through their blog corkcitycentre.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/82/.