As a family battle against unlawful eviction, residents of St. Catherine’s Gate Emergency Accommodation reveal they are not allowed talk or associate with any other residents under threat of being “turfed out,” and are routinely punished for challenging management. Inner City Helping Homeless speak out in condemning management’s actions.
Catherine Reddington, whose family are currently faced with eviction from Saint Catherine’s Gate Emergency Accommodation in Dublin 12 said she was told by staff not to call Saint Catherine’s a “home” and faced threats of eviction for talking to other residents. Her family’s experience of abusive conditions echo comments made by other families who have previously lived in Saint Catherine’s. Angel Dignam, whose family lived in Saint Catherine’s Gate for a year and made contact with the Irish Housing Network after discovering Reddington’s situation, has said that her family felt “locked up” and that Saint Catherine’s Gate staff treat families “like dirt”. Tamara Kearns who lived in Saint Catherine’s with her two children (then aged 6 and 1 years) has described how residents were regularly “punished” by staff for breaking house rules. This punishment included turning off lifts, thereby forcing families to carry buggies, wheelchairs, and children in order to access their apartments. Kearns has also described how staff abused their positions by opening residents’ private mail and regularly entered her family’s apartment without warning. Amanda Reddington, mother of Catherine whose family is currently facing eviction has described the conditions in Saint Catherine’s Gate as “like a magdalene laundry, where the Church has been replaced by private companies.”
The Irish Housing Network is also deeply concerned over the vital lack of regard for children’s welfare on the site. Dignam, Kearns, and Reddington have said that the ban on residents socialising with each other also extends to the many children who live in Saint Catherine’s, and would be verbally abused by staff for breaking this rule. Angel Dignam whose family lived in Saint Catherine’s for a year, referred to one such incident when her children, now aged 6 years, 3 years, and 6 months, were invited to a party of another child in the complex. Staff refused to let the children play together and demanded they stay in their separate flats. Angel has described how this made her children feel bullied and afraid of the staff who control the site. Tamara Kearns has also described that her children experienced “night terrors” while staying in Saint Catherine’s. All three families have also described how children are banned from playing on any green areas on the site or anywhere in the complex, with no option of staying in more suitable accommodation.
The Irish Housing Network is also concerned over statements made by all three families concerning fire safety standards on the Saint Catherine’s Gate site. Catherine Reddington:
“The main gates are chained after 11pm, so there’s no way of leaving the complex in an emergency.” Balcony doors are also permanently bolted shut, and windows are wired shut. Tamara Kearns described this as particularly worrying, saying that while adults may be able to force windows in case of emergencies, this would be impossible for the many children who live on site. The Irish Housing Network has since contacted the Dublin Fire Brigade who report they have no record of a fire certificate for the building.
The inhumane conditions in Saint Catherine’s Gate Emergency Accommodation came to the attention of the Irish Housing Network when Catherine Reddington, her partner and two children aged 2 and 5 were evicted from their apartment after they requested emergency electricity and gas be turned on when they found themselves 40cent short of their utility bill. Director of Inner City Helping Homeless, Anthony Flynn has also voiced solidarity with Catherine Reddington and her family and condemned the actions of Saint Catherine’s Gate management;
“Inner City Helping Homeless totally condemn the actions of the management of St Catherine’s Gate. Families in emergency accommodation are already in a state of vulnerability, after reviewing the rules surrounding tenancy agreement in the facility we feel that the draconian rule implementations are a direct violation of the rights of the families housed under emergency accommodation. The lack of health and safety at the complex is clear and apparent. To force a family with young children out of their home on the run up to Christmas shows a clear lack of empathy and compassion from both Dublin City Council & the management of St. Catherine’s Gate. I would urge Dublin City Council to have meaningful engagement with the affected family and ensure the facility in question is ran in accordance with Dublin City Council emergency accommodation protocol. ‘’
Catherine’s partner Raymund, is currently occupying the apartment and refusing to leave in protest of the actions of Saint Catherine’s Gate Management. The family are demanding that they be allowed to stay in their accommodation, and that no evictions be carried out.
1. The Irish Housing Network formed in May 2015 and has been set up by a collection of housing and homeless groups fighting this ongoing housing and homeless crisis. We believe in the basic premise that housing is a right that should be provided based on need. We aim to share information, resources and coordinate action with groups across the island. There are currently 13 groups in the Network including community groups, homeless outreach support groups, and research groups.
2. The Saint Catherine’s Gate was managed by businesswoman Elizabeth Gallagher in conjunction with Dublin City Council. The Irish Housing Network understands that Gallagher’s company has gone into receivership and is now operated through receivers Grant Thornton.