Glen Hansard, Damien Dempsey, Hozier, Christy Moore, director Jim Sheridan and a range of activists and celebrities occupied a large, empty building in Dublin on thursday night (15th), to support the homeless people of Dublin.
Under the banner ‘Home Sweet Home’ a group of up to 100 people, including musicians, trade unionists, political activists, and film makers occupied Appolo House, a large and empty office block in the centre of Dublin. The office block is owned by NAMA, the Irish National Assets Management Authority, which was set up in 2009 in the wake of the banking crisis and property crash. NAMA has control of a huge amount of empty property in Dublin, and has been subject to significant criticism
Home Sweet Home has published a petition addressed to Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, which accuses the Irish Government of failing to tackle the homelessness problem with the same resolve with which they faced the bailing out of Ireland’s banks in 2008:
“We call on you to end homelessness and give it the same level of priority shown to bailing out the banks. This means everyone living on the street must have a safe place to go, an end to people living long term in emergency accommodation and an end to social housing waiting lists.”
Up to 6,525 people are officially homeless in Ireland, with many more joining that statistic each month as affordable housing is in increasingly short supply (in part because of continued property speculation). Estimates suggest the rate of people, including families with children, becoming homeless in the Irish republic has risen by 40% this year.
The move to occupy the building is a radical one, particularly in the context of Irish politics where surprisingly little opposition was shown, publicly, to the banking bail-out, the intervention of the Troika, and the savage program of austerity. Nationwide protests against the introduction of water charges suggest a change in attitude though. These sort of occupations routinely occur in countries like Italy, France, and the UK, but it’s the first high-profile occupation of its kind in Ireland.