Whose Ireland..?

If in a ‘western’, civilised society, we have people living, sleeping and dying on the streets, then we have failed. We have failed as a society, failed as a community; we have failed our fellow beings and their families and we have failed ourselves. An Ireland for all has become a laughing stock, a hideous picture of corporate greed where a Government fights to overturn a dodgy tax deal and give a corporation the tax they should pay back, before dealing with thousands of empty homes and homelessness.


We could talk endlessly about spikes in doorways, seats designed to stop you sitting or lying for too long, ASBOs and one way train tickets; we could talk about how we devalue life, how we degrade other humans, how we do it every fucking day, how we let it happen, every, fucking, day.  We step over the homeless, we clear doorways, we dump the rubbish in spots they call home and we complain about the smell.

We try to ship them elsewhere.


We could talk endlessly about how successive governments seem to have made a mess of fixing the issue time and time again; about how some councils seem more inclined to save a few quid on cladding and fire safety, about how that is more cost effective than looking after those more unfortunate than ourselves.  How Dublin City Council are rushing to demolish Apollo House before another Christmas highlights just how empty this city centre building is, how its usefulness is allowed to rot.

apollo 2

To our governments and councils, homelessness is something to be swept away, along with the poor.  They don’t bring inward investment, they clutter the streets up and block doorways.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, publicly funded and charitable hostels are cleared every morning, people with multiple, desperate needs thrown out to fend for themselves with nothing but an old coat on their back to keep out the winter. Everything to cut costs and save the public purse.

To hell with how many souls are lost in a death trap of a tower, that five quid a square meter has value elsewhere.  Right?


In the last year Dublin City Council has spent in the region of one million Euros to secure and maintain a 24 hour watch on Apollo House, god forfend someone might want to use it to tackle the greatest number of rough sleepers Dublin has seen in a generation.  An audit taken on November 7th put the number at 184.  184 mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, all left to rot on the street because the system, the Government simply doesn’t care.  Life expectancy for a homeless woman in Dublin is 38, for a man it is 42.  I’d be dead by now. How much time would you have left?


We’re better than this surely?

I reprint this from Terry McMahon, delivered at the Axis Theatre in Dublin about one year ago by way of an explanation for the taking of Apollo House.  It is a remarkable speech, filled with rage and anger.  One we should all aim to repeat. Every Day.

So little has changed in that time that is frustrating to watch, the only answer for us is to demand more of our politicians, its all very well letting lose on Facebook, its all very well to get angry on Twitter. But here’s a thing, lift the phone, call your representatives, call them and demand more.  Write to them, demand a change.  Because I for one and sick sore and tired of putting up with a world where people have to sleep in doorways and on benches.  When we’ve allowed them to.

This Is Our Ireland
A hundred years ago men and women fought a bloody
war for our better future. The most idealistic among us,
the bravest among us, the best among us, from every
rung of society, put everything on the line for our
Ireland. They are the forefathers of our revolution. We
are the sons and daughters of their sacrifice. And we
have failed them. Miserably. Horribly. Shamefully.
This is our Ireland and it’s a different war now.
Insidious. Malignant. Cancerous. Idealists are liars.
Heroes are cowards. Bullets are banks and bombs are
big business. They don’t call this war a Rising. Or a
Revolution. They call it Austerity. People are profit
margins now. Politics is criminal negligence. Death is
collateral damage. In this one year, the centenary of
1916, more people have died by their own hand than
were killed in the entire Easter Rising. In the eight years
since the implementation of Austerity, more people
have committed suicide than were killed in the entire
thirty years of the Northern Irish Troubles. This is our
Ireland and a hundred years after 1916, Austerity is not
just a lie, Austerity is murder.
This is our Ireland. Where corporations can operate tax-
free with impunity. Where natural resources can be
purchased for a song. Where our leaders can lie on the
world stage about our national recovery. Where state
protected banks can rip people from their homes and
vulture capitalists can peck at the carcasses. Where
families can be burned to death and survivors can be
dumped in concrete car parks. Where the Census Office
can report a quarter of a million empty properties and
the homeless can fuck off and die.
This is our Ireland. As ideals fought for by people braver
than us are systematically destroyed, one human right
at a time. And still we wait. As citizens and non-citizens,
in second-hand sleeping bags, lie on the cold concrete,
while elected and non-elected scum, in three-piece suits,
protect the criminally corrupt. And still we wait. As our
parents or grandparents lie terrified on a hospital
trolley or slumped alone on an emergency room chair.
As our children or grandchildren make plans to leave
the country and never look back or put ropes round
their necks because of the legacy we handed them. As
sheriffs come knocking for the keys to our doors and the
rights to our homes. All in the name of Austerity. That
con. That scam. That lie. That blood splatter.
And. Still. We. Wait.
This is our Ireland. Which is why we have no intention
of causing any hurt. Which is why we will operate within
the law. As much as possible. Which is why, as long as a
quarter of a million properties lie empty and our
government continue to do nothing, we will fight to
ensure nobody else dies in a doorway. We are doing this
to show the forgotten forefathers, the future
generations and the entire world that Ireland is made
up of a proud and protective people who will use our
strength to look after our most vulnerable. We are doing
this to become the change we yearned for.
This is our Ireland. Not the government’s. Not the
bank’s. Not the corporation’s. Not the dehumanizing
scum who know the price of everything and the value of
nothing. Ireland belongs to the dreamers, the fighters.
the explorers; the deeply rooted, the Traveller and the
recently arrived; the pink-skinned, brown skinned and
every in-between skinned; the old, the young, the
straights, the LGBTs, and the sitting on the fencers.
Ireland belongs to the musicians, the poets, the artists,
and to the audience; the vulnerable, the special needs,
the carers; the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters
who find the courage to wake up every day and fight for
our better future. Ireland belongs to the people who
make you proud to know them. The storytellers who
make you crack up laughing then break down weeping.
Ireland belongs to the innumerable beautiful bastards
known worldwide for their humanity. Their decency.
Their goddamn Irishness.
Our freedom was fought for a hundred years ago, and
today we ask ourselves what are we prepared to do for
the people who need us most? We ask ourselves, if not
us, who? If not now, when? And finally, we ask ourselves
when exactly did we allow a tiny coterie of controlling
class scum make us forget what a fucking sublime
nation we are?
This is our Ireland.
Terry McMahon


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