‘There are Apollo Houses in Lucan and Clondalkin’

by Sylvia Pownall

A GROUP of activists committed to housing the homeless has backed the Home Sweet Home movement – and said it wouldn’t rule out doing the same in south Dublin.
The Clondalkin and Lucan Housing Action Network, which launched on December 10, is committed to providing a homeless hostel in the local area, banning evictions, providing more social housing and ending Direct Provision.
Founder member Sean Phelan said the network already had a significant membership made up of community activists and local politicians across a number of political parties. He said they were heartened to see Apollo House used to shelter rough sleepers, adding that there were plenty of vacant Nama properties in Clondalkin and Lucan that could be put to the same use.
He told The Gazette: “I think what they’ve done is brilliant. It really points to the fact that Nama is owned by the people and what better way to use these empty buildings. We have over 6,000 homeless, 2,000 of them children.
“I think once the celebrities got on board that captured the public’s imagination. There are vacant Nama properties, and other vacant properties locally but with regard to doing something similar that would have to be discussed first.”
Cllr Francis Timmons gave a rousing speech at the network’s inaugural protest rally outside the Civic Offices in Clondalkin earlier this month when he pointed to the “epidemic that is the crisis and scandal of housing in this 100 year anniversary of 1916”.
He added: “This Christmas there are 156 families accommodated in hotels and bed and breakfasts placed by South Dublin County Council. There are in addition 64 families based in Tallaght Cross.
“We need an emergency hostel and a women’s refuge in Clondalkin. We need to build council houses and homes where children can have stability and consistency in their daily routine. If we cherish all the children of the nation equally why isn’t the right to a home enshrined in our constitution? Are we as a nation serious about providing children with the right and the best start in life?”
Cllr Timmons, who set up Clondalkin Helping Homeless in 2014 as a temporary service to feed homeless on a nightly basis, added: “Never in my life did I believe I would see people sleeping rough in our town. Well in 2016 this is reality for some people and it is right on our doorstep.”
Meanwhile Sinn Fein Deputy Eoin O Broin has hit out at Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Fianna Fail TD John Curran for “blocking a crucial Focus Ireland anti-homelessness measure” in the Dail last week.
The measure, an amendment proposed by Focus Ireland to the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill, was defeated by a combination of Fine Gael opposition and Fianna Fail abstention.
Deputy O Broin said: “As a result thousands of families and 2,500 children will spend Christmas in hotels and B&Bs.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for TDs and ministers to express concern about the homelessness crisis why actively blocking measures in the Dail that would help those at risk of losing the roof over their heads.”

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