In the decade following the implosion of the Irish economy and the arrival of the international mega recession the insidious process of gentrification began in Dublin’s north inner-city. At the start it seemed to the long-established residents of Stoneybatter, a socioeconomically disadvantaged area of Dublin, as a curiosity; apparently genderless young women in shapeless overcoats and hats and lumbersexual, bearded effeminate men in pathetic beanie hats opening up half-caked coffee shoppes, craft beer pubs, bicycle repair shops cum cafés, and “settling” the area. Less than ten years later those long-established locals were forced out of their homes, due to rising rental prices, shattering the community they had built up over generations, to make way for the settlers.


What Tom Slater had described in 2006 as “an expression of urban inequality” had arrived in our city and was busy devouring a vulnerable working class community in the midst of the worst economic crisis this country has experienced since the 1980s. The result for the victims of this process has been catastrophic, with many being added to the one hundred families being made homeless every month in Dublin. Gentrification in Stoneybatter has been, as it has been in London, New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere, relentless and callous. Motivated by the lower property prices the gentrifiers have opportunistically and parasitically descended on the area, and, without the protection of rent controls or social housing, the original inhabitants’ lives have been shattered.

So far the term ‘Gentrification’ or the social problems and conflict it creates has barely been touched upon by the Irish media, and the government and city council have completely ignored the issue – preferring to stick to the narrative of a housing crisis. The reason for this media and state negligence is quite simple; Landlordism is a staple economic practice of the Irish élite and middle classes, and Dáil Éireann and RTÉ are overrun with landlords and property owners making a killing from this new property bubble. Those currently suffering the effects, dispersed from their historic communities and from the security of their social and family networks, or left to languish in emergency accommodation or on the streets, don’t get a say in this because, as usual, they lack the means.

Earlier today I discovered one of these half-baked, deliberately unfinished (a characteristic of gentrification chic) coffee shoppes far from the Stoneybatter zone of settlement. Half way along Meath Street, in the heart of the Dublin Liberties – another socially deprived area of the inner-city – I came across LEGIT Coffee Co. Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with entrepreneurialism. If someone has money to invest and wishes to set up another fucking coffee shoppe, more power to them. It becomes a serious problem when that business bears all the hallmarks of the advance guard of what we have already seen in Stoneybatter. Given that neither the government nor the business owners are likely to give a damn about the effects this will have on the Liberties community, from hard experience, my advice to those people is this: do whatever it takes to shut that place down.


Reference:
Slater, Tom. “The eviction of critical perspectives from gentrification research.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 30, no. 4 (2006): 737-757.


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