Irish Hollywood star Colin Farrell said homeless people in Ireland are refugees in their own land.
The actor was one of many Irish celebrities speaking out about the crisis as the takeover of Apollo House to house rough sleepers in the capital continues.
“What is a refugee? It’s somebody who has to move from place to place without a home to try and find some sense of existence or some sense of peace and that’s what the homeless community in our country is and they’re basically refugees in their own land,” he said yesterday.
The actor, who is a recovered drug user, also commented on the added hardship of addiction that some rough sleepers face.
“I wasn’t lying on a street corner at eight degrees at two o’clock in the morning sticking a needle in between my toes, it wasn’t that level of hardship. We’re talking about a lot of hardship and I’m not saying all homeless people are all drug addicts at all but there is a lot of that of course because it’s an escape. But, there go I, but for the grace of God,” he said.
Farrell, who is a patron of the Irish Homeless Street Leagues, said politicians need to step up to the plate.
“Our care is demonstrated with all the meetings and all the rallies that are going on and the population of our country is aghast at what’s going on,” he said.
“The most important thing is the aftercare programme and that’s what we’re trying to get some funds raised for — for aftercare to help all these men and women who have fallen on very, very hard times that inflicts a certain amount of inhumanity on them daily, to do the practical things: how to interview for a job, how to get off whatever they need to get off, how to deal with their emotional or their mental issues, how to take care of their healthhow to apply for work.”
Musician Glen Hansard, who is involved in the Home Sweet Home initiative that took over Apollo House, also talked to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ Radio One yesterday with Farrell.
Hansard explained how the Apollo House action came about: “It was a bunch of friends sitting around all through the year talking about this subject [homelessness], frustrated, some more frustrated than others, other people with just a humanitarian approach just wondering if there was anything more solid we could do than handing over a cheque every year to the great work of Fr Peter McVerry or the Simon Communities or St Vincent de Paul.
“Apollo House is a disused building, sitting disused for a number of years. It’s a nine-storey empty office building. When we saw it and when it became apparent that this would be the place to go into, there was a quick pow-wow with all the people that are involved in this and it was agreed upon that we could make this work and convert it. It is an office building and there is a lot of open space but there are 60 private rooms that could potentially be turned into private accommodation. The idea is to give a couple, or a single woman or a single man, their own key and say: ‘Here you go, here’s a room for you, go inside. You don’t have to leave in the morning, you can make this place your home.’ The kitchens are being installed today. We’ve the heating running, we’ve got the lighting running and we’re at a point now where it’s up and running.”
Home Sweet Home is an initiative jointly run by the Irish Housing Network and various trade unionists.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved