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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 20 May, 2019
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'Anybody could end up homeless - it could be me or my daughter': Public support key to Apollo House occupation

The occupiers of Apollo House have utilised public support to great effect.

THEY CAME FROM far and wide to show their support for an occupation and a movement which has garnered huge public support.

A large crowd gathered outside the Four Courts yesterday morning in solidarity with activists who had taken possession of a vacant Nama building – Apollo House in Dublin’s inner city.

Widespread public support and appeal has been a cornerstone of the occupation, which started when a group of a hundred or so activists entered the building late last Thursday night.

Key to maintaining this appeal has been the endorsement and support of several high-profile celebrities and musicians – among them, Glen Hansard, Jim Sheridan and others.

A public concert which featured such high profile names as Hozier and Kodaline was held on Tuesday afternoon, with hundreds of people attending, and tens of thousands tuning in to watch online.

The occupiers – beneath the umbrella of the Home Sweet Home coalition and the Irish Housing Network – have harnessed this support to great effect, issuing callouts to the public to volunteer and show up at key demonstrations.

A volunteers meet and greet in Tuesday evening attracted hundreds of people, eager to help out with the movement in some way.

And yesterday outside the Four Courts, the public did not disappoint, turning out in their droves to offer their support to the activists and the occupiers.

TheJournal.ie spoke to a few to see what brought them out onto the streets on a cold December morning.

1. Lar and Louisa Cooney

IMG_20161221_101939 Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“I feel really strongly about it. There’s far too much people on the streets and there’s far too much money in the city,” said Lar Cooney, who arrived outside the courts with his young daughter Louisa.

Asked why he thought this occupation garnered so much support, Lar said:

It’s too close to Christmas. It’s a great movement and I think it took everyone off guard and I think everyone should get behind it.

Lar said it was the recognition that anybody could become homeless that inspired people to act.

“Anybody could end up homeless – it could be me or you. It could be my daughter,” he said.

This movement is getting bigger – no doubt about it.

2. Maeve and Ciaran Thornton 

IMG_20161221_101553 Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

Maeve and Ciaran Thornton said they had come down to support the occupiers in court.

“We saw online that they were going to be evicted, and we thought ‘that’s not right’ and decided to come down,” said Ciaran.

They echoed Lar’s comments about the realisation that anybody could become homeless inspiring people to act.

“I think it’s the realisation that anybody could become homeless, and that it got to the stage that people weren’t able to turn a blind eye to it anymore,” said Maeve.

The timing of this Apollo House occupation coincided with that and it’s what got everyone down here.

3. Marie Nugent 

IMG_20161221_100542 Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“I just believe that everyone should have a place to stay with a warm bed food and shelter,” said Marie Nugent.

“I know a lot of people who have been made homeless and it’s a horrible, tragic situation for anybody to be faced with, especially this time of year.

Marie used to volunteer for a soup run, and said the issue of homelessness has alway been “close to her heart”.

“From talking to people about the situation they’re in – it’s just about getting rid of the stereotype in the city and helping people out,” she said.

I just wanted to come out and give my support to this movement as much as I possibly can.

Read: ‘This conversation is well and truly happening’ – Tears and cheers from Apollo House activists after day in court

Read: Apollo House occupiers told to leave by 11 January

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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