CAMBRIDGE COURT CHRONICLES

being a true account of life in a sheltered housing complex in Ringsend Dublin

DOING TIME WITH THE BULLIES

It is exactly 6 years and 6 months since I first moved into Cambridge Court. I doubt if I will live for another 6 years…….. It is two weeks since I was offered a transfer out of Cambridge Court to a place that was probably no better and perhaps a lot worse. I don’t have time on my side. I’m not going to live forever. I’m getting older by the minute……..and I do feel old. And so , that question that Lenin asked , “What is to be done”. Do I just give up , let the bullies have their way and resign myself to spending my last few years ( or months)  living a life that’s not worth living. That’s a rhetorical question. Such an option is no option. So , what IS to be done ?

Every day I think of the bullies. Every minute of every day I think of those bullies. I will think of them right up to the very second that I die. And I think of the thugs in Dublin City Council who willfully and deliberately  support those bullies in each and every act of bullying and intimidation. I have nothing else to do but think. I am not going away. I’m not giving up.  I’m watching……..

New Flat

Last Monday I received a letter from Dublin City Council offering me a transfer to a new flat. It is in a nice location just a few minutes from the Peppercanister Church and the National Gallery of Ireland. Unfortunatly the flat itself is just the same as the one I am living  in at the moment.

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It is a one room flat with absolutely no aesthetic appeal and is typical of the sort of housing that is offered to those on the public housing list. The only reason I was offered this was that the local Gardai put some pressure of the council to get me out of the hell hole I’m living in. Of course this new flat might turn out to be even worse than Cambridge Court which is why I did not take it. It really is a pity as the neighbourhood is really nice.IMG_0200

DEATH SENTENCE

A few days ago I got yet another letter from Dublin City Council. I did not read it as I’m sure it’s not a letter of apology on their part for the years of intimidation that tenants in Cambridge Court have had to suffer. But it seems likely that they will evict me. I don’t know how long this will take but I imagine it will be a couple of months or so. At my age being evicted would be tantamount to a death sentence. It is quite impossible to get an affordable flat in Dublin just now and if your old and working class then it is probably pointless to even try to find somewhere. There are of course homeless shelters and hostels but these are not the sort of place that any normal person would want to live in. So if I was evicted it would just mean that I would have to live on the street. At my age and in my state of health I would not last very long -perhaps a couple of weeks but not much more than that.

Funnily enough none of this is any surprise to me. When I first made an official complaint of bullying to Dublin City Council about a year  ago I knew that eventually it would come down to this. Every victim of institutional  type bullying  fully understands  that if they push the issue then it’s only a matter of time before they are turned on by the very people who are supposed to be protecting them. Most victims  just suffer in silence and die before their time. Obliviously  I’m not happy about this situation that I am in but there are worst things than dying…..and we are all going to die at some point so it might as well be now as any other time. Fear is a very potent weapon and bullies and their protectors thrive on it. As a weapon it works very well …..unless that is , you overplay your hand and push people too far. And if you do push people too far have they  a moral right to hit back ? Have they a legal right to hit back ? This is a perfectly legitimate question. It is a perfectly reasonable question to ask and the fact that some people may not be happy that  this  question is being asked does not alter anything. This was one of the questions raised by the Nuremberg trials.

It is Friday afternoon here in Dublin and it is a wet miserable day. I am sitting in my flat while the bullies are in the Common Room enjoying themselves. No one else is there but that is not unusual. They seem particularly  brazen these last few weeks and are , I would imagine , enjoying this whole situation. But I would hate to be living inside their heads……

COMMUNITY POLICING AND SHELTERED HOUSING

For several years now the local community Gardai have been visiting the bullies who run Cambridge Court. I have never know them in all that time to actually call on tenants and so I can honestly say that they have been calling down to see the bullies but in the last few weeks this has changed. Now they are calling to see me. I did not invite them. I did not ask them to call and I would rather they didn’t……….

One of them called on me today and asked if there had been any more trouble. He was referring to the fact that a couple of weeks ago I took the lock off a door in Cambridge Court so that tenants could use the kitchen. The implication  of his  question was of course that I had caused trouble. The trouble was actually caused by the retired matron who for years has refused to let tenants use the place and the Gardai who responded to her phone call instead of simply saying that it was a private matter and nothing to do with them. There has been trouble in Cambridge Court for years but it only became trouble to the Gardai when , after six years of extreme patience and restraint on my part I felt it had just gone on far too long. The Gardai are not calling on this retired matron to tell her she must not prevent tenants using the kitchen nor are they calling on Dublin City Council to advise them to put an end to this situation – they are only calling on me. This is quite intimidating and the message I am getting is very clear……

There is , as I have said , trouble in Cambridge Court every day of the week and big trouble at that but that’s not a matter that the Gardai or DCC are interested in. They only become interested if a tenant  decides he/she has  had enough. None of this is in any way in the interest of tenants but who cares about the tenants. They presumably should be grateful they have a roof over their heads and leave it at that. Not only is it not in the interest of tenants it is positively harmful to tenants. Tenants who for years have lived without hope now have the message driven home that it is pointless  to even try to change things. Is this what community police is all about ? Bullying is a serious offense and there  is evidence of it in abundance in Cambridge Court for anyone who cares to open their eyes but obviously no one is even remotely interested. At no point in the last few weeks has any Garda or detective  Garda  expressed any interest in investing the matter. It is just not that important. It may well , as the evidence suggests , shorten the life of it’s victims and do them appalling damage but that is not even an issue with the authorities.

Meanwhile , back in the real world , the nasty intimidating world of sheltered housing the bullying and intimidation goes on unchallenged. The victims are on their own. Not only are they abandoned and alone but the Gardai are there to make sure it stays that way. As I keep repeating over and over again on this blog – the bullies are not the problem , it is the people who protect them  that are the problem.

 

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN SHELTERED HOUSING

It is 2:30 in the afternoon and I am sitting in my flat like most tenants. The Day Centre/Common Room is empty so in theory I could go in there but for what purpose ? There are computers in there that no one uses ( apart from the bullies that is ). There is a large snooker table which is likewise used by the bullies or their friends and various other people who don’t live here and there are several bingo tables which are used exclusively by even more people who also don’t live in Cambridge Court. Apart from all that the place  is just not nice to be in at any time. ‘Just another day in sheltered housing. Another empty miserable day with nothing for tenants to do. And if some tenants were  pushed too far , decided to change all that ……..well , they would very soon be put in their place.  The Gardai and Dubllin City Council  are there to see that things stay just as they are. It may not suit the tenants -it might not be in the interest of tenants but what has that got to do with it ?

Tomorrow night the kitchen in the Day Centre will be opened , the cups laid out , the tea prepared but not for tenants. No the tenants will be in their flats while yet another gang of people who don’t live here take over the place for the night. This is sheltered housing. The tenants will be one day older and one day closer to their graves , one more empty miserable meaningless day but not to worry this suits the powers that be. They are more than happy as are the bullies. The non-tenants who take full advantage of this  situation are also quite happy. This kind of thing is happening every day of the week in sheltered housing units and old peoples homes but  as  long as everyone is happy who cares.

CAMBRIDGE COURT BINGO/SNOOKER HALL

It is Tuesday night in Cambridge Court. Bingo night. As I write this there are at least twenty people playing bingo in the  tenants Day Room/Common Room but they don’t actually live in Cambridge Court. Tenants as usual are stuck in their one room bedsits with nothing to do. This has been going on for at least ten years and there is nothing they can do about it. If any tenant was to go over right now and insist on their right to use the Day Centre the bullies would call the police and the Gardai would be quick to tell the tenants to behave themselves. Dublin City Council go out of their way to protect the bullies and so tenants are on their own. No one is looking after the interests of the tenants……Not the Gardai and certainly not Dublin City Council.

It is a very hot night here in Dublin and I had  my door open to cool my flat down but had to  close the door due to the noise of these people. They were , by the way , enjoying a nice cup of tea made in the Day Centre kitchen from which tenants have been banned for years now. The last time I tried to use this facility the Gardai were called and Dublin City Council accuse me of anti-social behavior.

BULLIES 1 VICTIMS 0

Yesterday evening at 6:30 I was having my dinner when two Garda detectives  knocked on my door. They had come to see me about my blog. They were polite , even friendly and left after I agreed to moderate some of the language  I use in my blog. They were here for perhaps twenty minutes. It was not intimidating in any way -although any visit from the police tends to make one a little uncomfortable. But like I say , they were courteous and polite so not harm done. Or at least no obvious harm done……

The reason they called on me  was that the bullies in Cambridge Court complained to the Gardai and Dublin City Council and presumable the council complained to the Gardai. The fact that the Gardai might not see it that way does not alter the facts. The Gardai did not call on Dublin City Council to ask them why tenants are being bullied , nor did they call on the bullies and ask them to desist. And a couple of years ago when I was threatened  by one of the bullies their  only response was to tell me that they could not get involved as it was a matter for Dublin City Council. The simple fact is that the only thing this visit from the Gardai achieved was to make the bullies feel even more invincible than they already are. The finer arguments and small print are academic -the bullies got what they wanted. That’s the bottom line. Nothing has changed apart from that. No one , not one single soul felt threatened by what I wrote in my blog and the fact that I will moderate my language  in future will probably not even be noticed.

The Gardai will feel they have done their duty and protected the community. The council will feel that they have put me back in my cage and in my place and the bullies…….They will just sit back  scratch their bellies and snigger as they continue to bully. Game set and match. And as to the tenants  (victims) – well , as I keep repeating , they just don’t matter. Things will go on just as they always have……and by the way , your paying for all this with your  taxes.

CAMBRIDGE COURT AT NIGHT

It has just gone 12:00 at night. I’m sitting in my flat in Cambridge Court wondering if the noise from the pub across  the road will go on until one or two in the morning. Either way I will be up until 2:30 or later. If I was eighty years of age and in the last stages of terminal cancer it would make no difference – I would still have to wait up until the early hours of the morning. This is sheltered housing Irish style. Tomorrow  night it will be the same , and the night after. I’m not really sure why I am even bothering to record this.  I suppose it is  because I have nothing else to do but while I’m at my blog let me send out an appeal to anyone who might read this. Do you , dear reader , know of any blogs  by senior citizens who are being bullied or are living in a bullying environment ?  I cannot find even one. In spite of spending many weeks looking I still  cannot find a single one. So if you do know of any please let me know.

In a week or two I will be 68 years and to be honest I’m beginning to feel every day of it. How long can my body/mind cope with all this stress ?  Sorry for moaning but if I didn’t moan I would go mad……..

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL’S CONTEMPT FOR OLD PEOPLE

It is just gone 8:00 pm and I’m sitting in my flat (my bedsit) in Cambridge Court Sheltered Housing complex.  Tonight is bingo night , but not for the tenants.  Twenty or thirty people who don’t live in Cambridge Court , who don’t pay rent in Cambridge Court will take over the Day Centre/Common Room tonight and have a grand old-time. If they feel the need to shout and swear they will do so. The fact that elderly tenants may not be well or indeed actually dying will not stop them. It has never stopped any of the many gangs  of people who use Cambridge Court as their own personal play area several nights a week. And it has never bothered Dublin City Council who are more than happy to see this state of affairs being inflicted on old and vulnerable tenants.

If any tenant should take exception to this and tell these people to go home they would be bullied back into their flats and if that didn’t work , if the tenants stood their ground then the bullies who are behind all of this would turn on them. If , in spite of all this bullying and harassment , the tenant refused to accept this situation then  the Gardai  (police) would be called. ………And guess whose side they would take ?………..This is the reality of daily life for old and vulnerable  tenants in Cambridge Court. It is as simple as that.

A WARNING TO VICTIMS

For those who may not have read my blog before let me give you some background. I’m a 68 year old pensioner living in a sheltered housing complex in Ringsend in Dublin. I have lived here for appx 6 years and literally from my first day here I have witnessed bullying and intimidation. Eventually after years of being bullied myself and watching others being intimidated and bullied I finally made an official complaint to Dublin City Council. To make a long story short they did nothing and it was obvious they had no intention of doing anything. There is nothing new in any of this. Just about every report and study ever issued demonstrates that if a victim finds the courage and strength to complain officially they will , A – be fobbed off …….and if this does not work , if the victim insists that something be done then , B – they will become the problem. Not only will the victim not get any help but they will be declared to be the problem.  The victim of bullying will  have become the bully and the bully will be declared the victim.  This phenomena  is well documented and is  indeed the principle  reason for victims not reporting bullying in the first place.

I made my official complaint to Dublin City Council about a year ago and as I have said nothing was done.  In Cambridge Court there is a day centre or common room and within this day centre is a kitchen. In spite of the fact that this kitchen is there for the tenants those same tenants have been locked out and prevented from using it while others , who do not live in Cambridge Court have the free run of the place. Week after week , month after month and year after year people who do not live in Cambridge Court have the full use of the kitchen. When these people are not using it it is locked. The reason for this state of affairs  is bullying -plain and simple. The bullies hold the keys and every time a non resident walks into the kitchen and makes a cup of tea while tenants are refused it sends out a not-so-scuttle message to all tenants as to who is really in charge. This behavior is intended to intimidate and does intimidate. All this may sound quite trivial but this type of thing is part of a pattern of intimidation and bullying that is a permanent and all pervasive reality of life in Cambridge Court.  Now , about a week ago I decide I had had enough of this and so I removed the lock from the kitchen door. The reaction from Dublin City Council was immediate . The police were called , the lock fixed and a letter rushed off to me. There was no hesitation. They was no prevarication…..action was taken…………………………………All of this in sickening contrast to the total indifference to intimidation and bullying which has blighted the life of many tenants for years. Not only was I accused of threatening people and damaging council property ( I removed 3 screws)  but I was also accused of threatening to kill people ….this being a reference to my anti bullying blog. Funnily  enough this was never an issue in the past ……I had been writing about the bullying in Cambridge Court for six years and saying more or less the same thing for all those years but it only became an issue when I removed the lock on the kitchen door. If I had not removed the lock I could have carried on with my blog writing whatever took my fancy for the next ten years  and no one would have given a damn. Of course if it was not my blog it would have been something else. Funnily enough when I took the decision to remove the lock the first thing that came into my head was that they would take exception to my blog but I took a deliberate decision not to delete any part of it as they would no doubt have found something else to use against me.

There is , as I have said , nothing new in any of this. About a year ago here in Ireland there was case where a woman had accused her partner of abusing her child. She went to the  appropriate authorities and was fobbed off  but refused to let the matter drop. In return she ended up being accused of abuse and her partner given custody of the child. In the official report it noted many more cases like this and made the point that if the victim was articulate and forceful then this was almost always the outcome. The institution will defend itself at any cost. And the institution can be quite vicious ….and a viscous and powerful institution will use all its considerable power to silence a victim. Its and old story……

So if you are a victim of institutional type bullying be warned:  First they will ignore you. Then (if you haven’t  got the message)  they will fob  you off in one manner or another and if you insist on pushing the issue they will then turn on you….THE VICTIM.  Officials who had neither the time or inclination to stop old vulnerable men and women  being intimidated and bullies will , in an instant , find the will , the inclination and all the required  resources to bully the VICTIM.    It is not an easy road to go down. You will be on your own. No one will help you and those who should will turn on you. It is happening every day of the week in institutions and old folks homes. You will be bullied and intimidated  by the very people who should be protecting you. It is a frightening and lonely experience. For decades in this country victims of abuse suffered this fate………and no doubt , many still are. Don’t expect a kind word or even a grain of human understanding.  Do not expect to be reassured…….you won’t be.  You will be on your own and at your most vulnerable and that’s not a nice place to be. You , the victim , will be presented as the villain.  There is a lot at stake in all of this and not just for you. The officials with responsible for the running of Cambridge Court will never admit that they have facilitated bullying of tenants . They will never acknowledge their guilt.

The very first person I spoke to when I moved into Cambridge Court was an old man. He was standing at his front door crying and his first words to me , the first words I ever heard in Cambridge Court were ,   ” They’re  bullying me , they won’t leave me alone , they are bullying me”. These , the very first words spoken to me in Cambridge Court. He was just an old vulnerable man and Dublin City Council did nothing to protect him. They were far to busy protecting the bullies….How many old people died before their time in Cambridge Court because the City Council just didn’t want to know ?  For myself , all I can say is that the trauma of living in Cambridge Court will follow me to my grave. My life , for all practical purposes is ruined. I carry the mental scars with me every minute of the day and will do so up to the moment of my death. Today it  is sheltered housing and old people’s homes , yesterday it was the Magdeline laundries and orphanages. But the people are the same. The indifference is the same. And more often than not the victims are the same.

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