Desperate for somewhere to live some Dublin families bypass the housing list by occupying abandoned homes.

While the housing waiting list has reduced, the length of time on the list means that some people are resorting to squatting. Urban renewal in Dublin is illustrated by the new commercial face of the city which is carving its way into the residential heart of old Dublin.

Houses are shut down, then knocked down to make way for office blocks.

Almost half of the city's population is housed by Dublin Corporation in the city centre or in the growing number of housing estates on the edge of the city. However, often the work of the corporation is too slow for people in need of homes. This has resulted in squatters putting themselves at the top of the queue.

Christine Ward and her family have been squatting in a Dublin corporation flat for the past two years. After five years on the housing list, she took matters into her own hands. Having heard that a flat was becoming vacant, Christine Ward was ready to move in as soon as the previous tenant left. On the day that she moved in, a representative of the corporation called around. Christine put a letter out through the letterbox to explain that she and her family were squatting. Despite the fact that they are squatting, the Wards have always paid rent on the property which the corporation has accepted. 

John Browne was one of the victims of squatters. He shared a corporation flat with his sister who died while he was in hospital. On the day of her funeral, squatters moved in. 

Frustrated by the system, another couple, John and Mary Pullen took advantage of a similar situation and took possession of a flat after the tenant died. The Pullens, like the Wards, have been paying rent to the corporation since they moved into the flat. 

Squatters present frustrating and expensive problems for the corporation. Assistant City Manager Des Flanagan explains that,

We've always looked upon squatting as being a very selfish and anti-social activity and we feel we're obliged to look after the interest of the people on the waiting list who haven't used muscle to take in other people's property.

He recalls a time when there were thirty thousand on the waiting list. Many of these were living in appalling tenements. Since then, much of the overcrowding has been solved and the number on the waiting list has been reduced to five thousand. He outlines some of the challenges facing the corporation in meeting the demand for homes which include money and land to build on. 

This episode of 'Seven Days' was broadcast on 24 January 1975. The reporter is Michael Johnston.