Home Sweet Home and Apollo House

 

A chara, – Having read your letters page concerning Apollo House and homelessness (December 21st), I felt compelled to put pen to paper lest the false impression be given that all Irish Times readers are perched in their ivory towers, uncaring and totally detached from reality while admonishing those who try to act from the goodness of their hearts on behalf of those less fortunate.

I applaud the action of the citizens’ movement Home Sweet Home.

While up to 40 homeless people will be removed from our streets, the further raising of awareness of homelessness throughout this State must be its greater success. It can only be hoped that this action will now embarrass the Government into real action.

However, it is depressingly worrying that the same people within Government, within Dublin City Council, and even within Nama, continue with the same old mantra that we have adequate facilities to cater for all the homeless on our streets. And so the denial continues.

I can recall two years ago writing to your newspaper highlighting the existence of two Irelands. There was “Establishment Ireland”, where the Gathering, the exit from the bank bailout, Nama, ongoing high salaries and pensions, property taxes, water charges and severe health and social welfare cuts were hailed and generally reported as positive successes for the long-term benefit of all. And there was “Hidden Ireland”, where emigration, massive personal debt, unemployment, severe poverty and homelessness – all with the resultant stress, health and even suicidal issues – were played down and received minimal government or media comment.

It is a sad reflection that little has changed in those two years, with the notable exception of those untroubled by years of austerity, who have gone from strength to strength. The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer.

Those involved in the Home Sweet Home campaign will certainly take people off the streets this Christmas time and have ensured plenty of Government and media comment concerning homelessness. They should be thanked for this alone.

Recent governments arrogantly ignored the Right2Water campaign and paid the price.

This Government’s response to homelessness will tell us if it has learned a lesson.

The initial indications are not good, but the people are watching.

I congratulate those involved with Home Sweet Home. May their work go from strength to strength. These people have done the citizens of this State some service. – Is mise,

ENDA FANNING,

Churchtown,

Dublin 14

Sir, – No doubt your letter-writer (December 20th) thought he was being hilarious when pointing out that the homeless who are now sheltered in Apollo House would have to look out at Dublin’s ugliest building, Hawkins House, but perhaps he might take a moment to consider that they may still prefer to look at it from behind some double glazing and with some heating, rather than from on the streets. Publishing a letter with that condescending tone does The Irish Times no credit. – Yours, etc,

CONOR HICKEY,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – There are good reasons for people to ask that the State should do more in the area of homelessness, ie spend more, yet when push comes to shove, very few of those same people are also willing to advocate for increases in the taxation that they pay to make those resources available.

Until they do that, this sector and many others, will be reliant on charitable giving, which appears to be the limit of what many people are actually willing to do, as opposed to what they say should be done.

While the motivations of those involved in the Apollo House effort are admirable, there is a need to be conscious that such actions can have an unintended negative effect on many more people.

The legal framework that says their seizure and occupancy of this property are wrong and illegal are also what has protected many people over the last decade for prolonged periods from summary eviction. That protection kept many people in their homes long after they had stopped paying mortgages. Eventually many still had to leave their homes, but it gave them some considerable breathing space nonetheless. Saying that anyone who simply feels they have a just reason to occupy and take possession of any property is a very dangerous precedent.

Endorsing the doing of a wrong or a breaking of the law, even for the right reasons, opens the door to those who would do the same wrong and break the same or similar laws for the wrong reasons. – Yours, etc,

DANIEL SULLIVAN,

Marino,

Dublin 3.