Saturday 19 August 2017

Homelessness is complex, and not just for Christmas

Even those involved in the occupation of Apollo House know the truth is more complicated than simple feel-good solutions, says Brendan O'Connor

Christy Dignam and Glen Hansard (left) perform outside the Apollo House in Dublin City centre
Christy Dignam and Glen Hansard (left) perform outside the Apollo House in Dublin City centre
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

The occupation of Apollo House could not have come at a better time. After the year we've all had, a bit of idealism warmed the cockles of our hearts at Christmas. From Trump to Brexit to new politics, we were stumbling out of 2016 feeling disillusioned, disenfranchised, even disgusted. And along came Glen Hansard and Home Sweet Home to reclaim something for the people, to remind us that this land is our land. And better still, they were reclaiming something from Nama/the banks/faceless receivers.

It is generally agreed that the banks ruined the country. And it is generally agreed too that some people have too much, and some people have too little. And there's too much bureaucracy in general. And if only we listened to the people, and had simple solutions, we could fix everything.

And Apollo House did all of that. It simplified everything. Take some of the property owned by Nama banking-style fat cats, and put some homeless people in it. Give them a roof over their heads at Christmas. And who could argue with that? And Christmas is a time when we all feel extra guilty about the homeless, because Christmas is a time of home for most of us. Indeed, for some people Christmas may be the only time they think about homelessness. Some people associate the homeless with Christmas in the same way they associate Glen Hansard with Christmas.

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