Wednesday 20 September 2017

Civil disobedience at Apollo House echoes Martin Luther King

Members of Home sweet home and the Irish housing network on a march from Apollo House to the dept of finance where they called for Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance to make vacant buildings available for housing. Photo: Damien Eagers
Members of Home sweet home and the Irish housing network on a march from Apollo House to the dept of finance where they called for Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance to make vacant buildings available for housing. Photo: Damien Eagers

Jillian Godsil

I have been thinking a lot about Apollo House since the news first broke. I cried when I read the reports and I smiled with joy at the crowds turning out to support the activists. I really thought that something was starting: a groundswell of people looking to effect change - quickly and humanely.

And as we all wait until the High Court hearing on January 11, I am wondering if it will be a turning point or a damp squib. And the more I think about it, the crosser I become. The interview with Owen Keegan, chief executive of Dublin City Council, last weekend made my blood boil. He criticised the activists and called the Irish public a sucker for celebrities. How dare he? Motivated people had achieved something the council was very lax in doing - they had given a roof, heat and food to 40 or so homeless people over Christmas, and all the council could do was say the accommodation was unsuitable.

How suitable is a doorway or a shop front where homeless people are at the mercy of late-night revellers, inclement weather and spikes and sprinklers to move people on? What kind of a society have we become where we can step over and ignore these people?

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