Belfast Telegraph

Glen Hansard and Saoirse Ronan lead takeover of Dublin homeless shelter

The Once star and Atonement actress hope to give struggling Irish folk somewhere to stay this Christmas.

A group of activists led by actress Saoirse Ronan and Oscar winner Glen Hansard have taken over a public building in Dublin, Ireland and turned it into a homeless shelter.

Singer/songwriter Hansard, who starred in the film Once, revealed the illegal takeover is "an act of civil disobedience" during an appearance on Ireland's The Late Late Show on Friday night (16Dec16).

He revealed director Jim Sheridan, Hozier and singer Christy Moore are also part of the Home Sweet Home group who have turned Apollo House into a winter shelter.

"We are involved in an act of civil disobedience," Hansard told host Ryan Tubridy. "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... 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."

Calling the city's homeless issue "a national emergency", he added, "It is at a level now, not since the famine have families been homeless like they are right now. It is really, really difficult."

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