Yes, there’s a problem with homelessness in Ireland. It brings shame on us all – we’re supposed to be “cherishing all our children equally” but there are over 260 people sleeping rough on the streets of the capital every night and 70 families, still losing their homes every month. This is the concrete results of those “austerity measures”.
So the big news this week is that a group of concerned citizens took over Apollo House, an empty office block in Tara Street in Dublin and made it available to people who had lost their homes. Of course, it was an illegal act – but a good one.
The empty building was under the control of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), the ‘bad bank’ set up by the Irish government after the economic crash. Since the weekend, volunteers have been working flat out to make the building reasonably suitable as accommodation.
There has been a huge outpouring of support for the project, with more than €90,000 being raised through a GoFundMe page in the first 3 days for the “Home Sweet Home” campaign. It’s still going on – click on that link yourself!
Activists including singer/songwriter Glen Hansard argue that because the building is linked to NAMA, it belongs to the Irish people… “This is an act of civil disobedience”, he said, “We shouldn’t have to do it but the government is not doing its job to house the homeless.”
So that’s my Christmas story for you. It’s great to see the people caring about the most vulnerable in our society, even if the government doesn’t.
Nollaig Shona, a chairde. Have a lovely Christmas, talk soon, eoin