Friday, 23 December 2016

Injunction Granted - Homeless Must Leave Apollo House

The decision by the High Court judge Paul Gilligan to grant an injunction against the Apollo House occupiers and their homeless brothers and sisters but to allow them to stay until 11 January 2017 was a face-saving exercise and an astute one.  It was made as hundreds of citizens of all persuasions were standing in solidarity with the defendants outside the Four Courts on Wednesday 21 December 2011 in bitterly cold weather. Support from passing traffic was loud and relentless. 

Inside, the judge wrestled with some problems, not least if he were to put a stay on the injunction  who would be responsible in case an accident occurred at the premises during the Christmas or new Year.  An early morning radio programme had asserted that he himself would be responsible.  Apparently he decided that the safer route for the establishment and himself was to compromise.  That he did.

This is not a victory for the homeless. In one sense it is a partial victory for the occupiers who have not been criminalised. They have well and truly highlighted the homeless problem. But it was not the kind of victory they had hoped for. Already some of the homeless who had been resident in Apollo House have been moved to shelter in the McVerry Trust Foundation. They will be replaced by others.  It would be understandable if some of the homeless might not have the stomach to appear to resist a High Court order. High Court orders are intimidatory even for the wealthiest, best fed and best housed citizens in the land.  They are particularly frightening for the homeless  They are intended to be so.  The Court, the Government, the receivers Mazars (represented by A & L Goodbody) all profess sympathy for the cause of the occupiers and their guests but . . .

There's always a "but".  The action of Judge Gilligan has saved them from the embarrassment of throwing out homeless people from a comfortable lodging just before Christmas. Christmas must not be tarnished by such grossly unjust and uncharitable actions.  Come 11 January 2017 when all the Christmas fuss and goodwill has died down, that will be a different matter.

The Apollo House occupiers will know that they have the support of millions in Dublin and around the country for their courageous action  . Whatever the outcome their names are written in gold.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

I support the occupation of Apollo House 100%

Image result for justin morahan
  On Thursday night a number of activists now known as Home Sweet Home occupied the vacant Apollo House and opened it up to Dublin's homeless people - or as many of them as they can safely accommodate.

A spokesperson described the occupation as an act of civil disobedience on Friday night's Late Late Show.

At present about 35 homeless persons are accommodated there. Support for the action has been enormous.

Prominent among the occupiers/supporters  are Brendan Ogle, Glen Hansard, Jim Sheridan, Saoirse Ronan, Liam O MaonlaĆ­, Rosi Leonard, Damien Dempsey, Christy Moore, Conor O'Brien, John Connors, musicians Hozier, members of Kodaline band, Quentin Sheridan, Dean Scurry, Irish Housing Network, unions Mandate and Opatsi.

Image result for justin morahanThe plight of the homeless has deteriorated in Ireland since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The anomalous situation has arisen, and is visible to all, of hundreds of people on the streets at night, several hundreds of evictions of home owners who are unable to pay the enormous monthly repayments  associated with  more extravagant times and hundreds of "ghost estates" lying empty and dangerous around the country - as well as monster buildings like Apollo House also lying empty and unused.

It was in these circumstances that Apollo House was occupied last week.

  I visited the occupation on Friday and my picture with poster stating my 100% support for the occupation appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday.. Due to new EU rules, unfortunately I may not reproduce it here.

Tomorrow the group are facing a case in the High Court where an order is being sought to remove the homeless and their champions/protectors from Apollo House. Developers want to use the building instead for "much needed office space".

I predict great public anger if this action is successful.