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All is changed

At a certain point in any protest movement there comes a point where the state decides it will not give way and will use force to suppress protest.

We have reached that stage in the Irish housing crisis with the "Public Private Partnership" of the Garda Heavy squad and  private thugs specialising in eviction.

The attack on Take Back the City in North Frederick Street was a PR disaster for the government but they are far from retreating. As far as the government are concerned attacks on property rights, attempts to assert the primacy of workers needs, must be resisted.

At this point the only issue is: "how do we defend ourselves?"

Take Back the City are already implementing a plan of defence. That is to grow the organisation, expand to other areas, undertake fresh protests and new forms of civil disobedience in order to broaden the resistance. However the expansion we need is not only in  recruitment or by organising a new series of protests with greater militancy. An effective defence will involve not just mobilising hundreds or thousands, but mobilising tens and   hundreds of thousands. The only way to do that is to open a  conversation with all the other groups and organisations concerned about housing and working class rights and confronting those who are unwilling to criticise the state and are holding mobilisation back. A good example of this is the recent statement by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, who linked opposition to the way in which the eviction was carried out with condemnation of social media criticism of Garda.

Let's be clear. If boycott was good enough for a land agents in the past, it's good enough for the Garda heavy squad and the goons employed by the landlords today.

Many other groups have protested the attack on Take Back the City but they have stopped well short of supporting the actual demands of the movement. It is not enough to say that people have the right to protest. We must go beyond that and endorse occupation as one of the central tactics of a movement to win housing rights.

For Take Back the City itself, the key thing is to turn their demands into an action plan. They have already highlighted the role of Dublin Council in facilitating landlords and speculators. Failed fire inspections become grounds for eviction without any cost to the landlord. The answers should be for the Council to take charge of these failing properties, secure them for use, fine the landlord and retain public control until the landlord makes reparation and guarantees a fair rent rate and tenancy rates to the workers living there.

The council is made up of political parties and councillors. They should all be approached. We all know the actual decisions are made by city managers but the councillors should be in conflict with these managers rather than nodding their heads. At the end of the day, if the council cannot be got to operate in the interests the workers it should be shut down. The same argument applies to the Dail. If it cannot operate in the interests of the workers then it too should be shut down.

The key to success is unity. We should not be happy with a loose coalition all going their separate ways. We should have a single national campaign that democratically decides an action plan and fights to turn it into reality.

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