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A ghost estate in Ireland Photo by: Google Images

Guerrilla gardeners attack Ireland’s bleak empty ghost estates

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A ghost estate in Ireland Photo by: Google Images

Growing more frustrated with Ireland’s abandoned properties left behind from the Celtic Tiger, ‘NAMA to Nature’ has taken to “guerrilla gardening,” or beautifying the eyesore properties through gardens and art.

Reuters reports on the movement that is gaining momentum in Dublin and beyond in Ireland. Born in the United States, “guerrilla gardening” involves beautification without permission. The general motive behind the ‘NAMA to Nature’ movement is that since taxpayers essentially own NAMA, then who is to say they do not own NAMA’s abandoned properties?

“Nobody asked us permission to buy it with our money so why should we seek permission to decorate it?” said one of the organisers of the initiative, who wished to remain anonymous.

“It's about taking a civil action against the grey area of a state body that doesn't allow for any transparency...There is no transparency in NAMA, and nobody knows what is happening with it,” said Serena Brabazon, one of the organizers of the movement.

Brabazon went on to say that the abandoned properties are a “nasty symbol of what’s been left behind” from the rise and debilitating fall of the Celtic Tiger.

“We are trying to empower people,” Brabazon added, “they don't have to sit behind these monstrosities, they can do something.”

One such ‘NAMA to Nature’ ambush took place in Keshcarrigan in Leitrim. There, the “guerrillas” planted over 1,000 trees of different varieties on a site that has been an eyesore for years to locals.

Under the cover of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, another ambush took place in Dublin’s docklands. Members of ‘NAMA to Nature’ nailed paintings to the encapsulating walls of the 8-story concrete shell of what was supposed to be the Anglo Irish Bank headquarters, a location that remains a “potent symbol of the financial crisis” Ireland is currently embroiled in.

Suki Jobson (36) is a geo-political researcher who recently returned to Dublin after living in Britain for 20 years. “There is such deep frustration. What I've seen in response to the art thing and the trees, is that people are just dying for some way of expressing this frustration.”

“It's the white elephant in the room,” Jobson went on to add. “No-one's really talking about but we're all paying for. I came home specifically now because I wanted to get involved.”

In response to the “guerrilla gardening,” a spokesperson for NAMA said “Some people seem to use it (the word 'NAMA') as a generic term for anything that is not currently occupied but that's very misleading.” Of the 2,800 unfinished project sites in Ireland, NAMA only owns about ten percent.

A recent study from Ireland’s NUI Maynooth found that the presence of ghost estates would be around for years to come.

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