Take back the city- Fight house evictions and homelessness

Date:

Occupy Belfast held a protest outside the city hall yesterday in a campaign against evictions/re-possessions and an end to homelessness. Campaigners have also located an empty building in the city centre and hope to re-possess the centre as a self-managed space in the next couple of weeks beginning the process of building a movement against house evictions.

At the moment we are getting hammered by vicious anti-working class cuts to services and jobs being imposed by Westminster and their local lackeys at Stormont. Cuts to housing benefits is just one arena of the wider re-structuring of capital where the battle lines are being drawn and solidarity needs to be built. Housing is a right, not commodity to be used as monopoly by slum landlords and property developers. Why should we be held to ransom by property developers and speculators while homelessness continues to rise and working class people are being squeezed out of our communities to make way for yuppie flats?

Figures produced by Occupy Belfast claim that last year in Northern Ireland:

-Repossessions increased by 11% (51% in the past 5 years)

-Writes were served to 1,872 homeowners with 945 households declaring themselves homeless.

 These stark statistics bear the hallmark of a system which puts profit before people. Politicians, bankers and property developers are a symptom of the rotten capitalist system which serves the interests of the rich and powerful. The question we all need to ask ourselves is what are we going to do about it?

 Continuing apathy, indifference, token protest and lobbying our local green and orange Tories no matter how well intentioned is getting us nowhere and never did. It is only resulting in a pervading cycle of powerlessness and dis-empowerment. The challenge is to build a movement which is prepared to go beyond the limits of spectacle politics, the sanctity of private property and its enforcer the state.

 The decision by the New Lodge and Mount Vernon tower blocks to merge and form a new group representing residents to tackle common issues over ‘anti-social behaviour’ and housing problems such as dampness, mould and heat loss provides a glimpse of what is possible and necessary in the fight for better conditions.

  Building such a campaign will not be easy. To do so we need to begin to organise as workers and the unemployed in a real and meaningful way in our communities – to become involved in discussing, agreeing on and organising the tactics necessary to build resistance and a better society for all as no politician will do it for us.

UPDATE: Protesters are currently occupying the Bank of Ireland building on Royal Ave in Belfast City center. The doors have been barricaded and police are currently trying to break in. A WSM member is present and is posting updates via the WSM Twitter.

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