Singer Glen Hansard spoke passionately tonight about his role in taking over Nama-owned Apollo House in Dublin city centre for use as a homeless shelter.
The Oscar winning singer-songwriter was on The Late Late Show to perform with the RTÉ Orchestra and afterwards spoke to host Ryan Tubridy about his involvement with the Home Sweet Home group and 'Operation Nama'.
Home Sweet Home has occupied Apollo House on Tara Street in Dublin city centre with the intention of accommodating the homeless. To loud cheers from The Late Late Show audience, Hansard confirmed the group was occupying the Nama-owned building “illegally”.
“We are involved in an act of civil disobedience,” he said.
“I call upon the very spirit of the Irish people to look at this, it is an illegal act. We have taken a building that essentially belongs to the people of Ireland and that has been lying empty.
“The Government will shelter 200 people this Christmas and there’s 260 people between the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal in Dublin. Now this is not only a Dublin issue but between the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal there are 260 people tonight homeless.
“What we would like to do is bridge the gap… We’ll be asking people to volunteer, we’ll be asking people to get behind the idea. It is a radical idea.”
Asked what the response would be if the group are told by the authorities to vacate the building, Hansard said: “You appeal to the better nature of the Government and Nama.
“This is a NAMA-owned building. If everybody pays tax in this audience, if anyone knows their stuff they know that that is essentially our building. We are just going to take it for a few months”.
The action came about through conversations with different artists, singers and friends over the year, he told Tubridy.
“I found myself part of a group of people who are essentially concerned citizens and we wondered is there a way that we could stage an intervention on our own behalf,” he said.
“So I find myself now part of group called Home Sweet Home. It is a group of artists, a group of friends, a group of people that we know and love. Like minded souls. Jim Sheridan… Andrew Hozier, Saoirse Ronan, Christy Moore.
“Mattress Mick has been great, he has really helped us out a lot. He has donated a lot of beds.”
Home Sweet Home wants to start a “national conversation” around homelessness, he told the audience.
“What we are trying to do is get a national conversation started,” he said.
“This should be a national emergency... The homelessness is at a level now, not since the Famine have families been homeless like they are right now. It is really, really difficult.”