Did you hear about the Squat near UCC?

THIS ARTICLE IS THE FRUIT OF AN INTERVIEW WITH A SQUATTER IN CORK CITY AND IS INSPIRED BY CONSEQUENT CONVERSATIONS THE WRITER HAS HAD WITH THE YOUNG MAN.

Would you exchange the comfort of living at your family home with residing at a derelict property with no electricity merely to highlight a social emergency? A group of four young men in Cork city have.

Alex and three of his friends (whom he likes to refer to as comrades) have been squatting an empty property near University College Cork (UCC) since winter.

The squatters are all young and consider themselves members of the ‘Cork branch’ of Connolly Youth Movement (CYM).

Named after the Irish Republican James Connolly – who led a small citizen army against the British to help liberate Ireland from British rule – CYM’s name is wildly associated with communism: a political doctrine on the rise partly due to the 2012 economic downturn and its consequent housing crisis. Communism is a socialistic ideal that aspires to economic equality and equal distribution of property within communities.

The 24-year-old Alex reads Marx – father of communism– religiously. He is quite calm unless you start to bother him by questioning his political convictions, then he would be keen to win the argument. Rarely smiling, the young man is looked up to by the rest of CYM members in Cork as the leader.

Cork City CYM Housing Crisis Alex Homits
CYM Members Holding a Communist Flag at a Housing March in Cork City

Last winter, a visit from two detectives to the squat compelled Alex to contact reporters. The owner of the derelict property had summoned the guards in an attempt to remove Alex and his ‘comrades’ from his property.

Alex says their electricity was cut off without any warning. “Nobody asked our side to the story,” he says.

The squatters shelter Cork city’s homeless men and women from time to time.

“I am glad we were able to help people dealing with tough conditions get into the house and put them in slightly better conditions,” Alex says.

Squatting or the ‘adverse possession of a property’ is deemed unlawful under Irish law. However, the law grants so-called ‘squatter’s rights’ to a third party occupier of land, to avail of which the occupier needs to make an official claim to the Property Registration Authority. For such claim to be successful, the claimant must have been the sole occupier of the property for over 12 years; this timeframe extends to 30 years for state-owned land.

A successful squatter’s rights claim would register the squatter as the legal proprietor of the land. The law advises landowners to frequently inspect their unsupervised properties to ensure that no unauthorised person is squatting on their lands. Otherwise, they must prove that they have not abandoned their property within a 12-year timeframe.

Alex is adamant that squatting is part of a ‘political struggle’ they have to go through until the housing crisis is lifted from the country. “The squat is a good reminder of what I am fighting for,” he says.

Cork City CYM Alex Homits Communism Housing Crisis
Is Marxism Gaining Popularity Among Cork Youth?

Since the Irish economic collapse for which deregulated banks are wildly blamed, socialist ideology is slowly gaining popularity in the Irish political landscape. Parties such as Solidarity (formerly known as People before Profit) have started to draw the public’s attention by regularly criticising Fine Gael’s approach toward issues such as the housing crisis, abortion, and even medicinal marijuana. In 2017, Solidarity Party watched its popularity slightly grow.

The socialist fascination has been universal. In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’s policies represent a ‘perfect’ alternative to the capitalist system, while Bernie Sanders in the US is still regarded as the ultimate saviour of America by the young American demographic.

Communism and its association with The Soviet Union and countries such as North Korea make it a taboo subject in the Irish political scene. That, however, does not stop it from gaining momentum among young Irish demographic. A recent American survey found that half of the millennials thought Joseph Stalin was a hero: a result Jarrett Stepman of The Daily Signal described as ‘a wake-up call’ for politicians. There is a consensus among political commentators and historians that Stalin was a dictator.

CYM Cork City communism socialism housing crisis Irish economic down turn
Stalin statue, credit Pixabay

Alex and the rest of CYM members sacrifice their free time to attract new followers. He had studied Politics and History in UCC: a course Alex says ‘a mixture of reasons’ did not let him finish. One reason, in particular, was his disagreement with his lecturers’ point of views. “Academic circles in UCC are very hostile to opinions outside of established western academia, “he says.

Alex insists that his interest in Marxism does not stem from the economic collapse. A statement further conversations about his poverty-stricken childhood life confirms.

“I also got a lot of political mentoring from the Communist Party,” he says.

The Marxist paradigm has fascinated Alex and his comrades to the degree that the word revolution has become a keyword in their speech – young Sanders supporters use the phrase quite often as well.

Isn’t communism a utopian notion that only works on paper?

Alex repeats my question, somewhat surprised. To him, it is not. Instead, it is a practical concept that would take a long time to be adopted by society.

“The reality is that we think about how can we make short-term victories and transform them into long-term victories maybe not in my lifetime we would see communism in Ireland, but we are laying the ground for it,” he says.

For now, we [journalists] do not talk about communism in Ireland. Alex and his comrades still take cold showers in the squat, even in freezing temperatures, although they have made the place as homely as they could – The Connolly Barracks they call it.

He was quite ill the last time we had a conversation, calling his ailment ‘a first-world problem’, Alex was complaining that it was stopping him from ‘reading and writing’. We haven’t spoken much since, but I get to see pictures from the squat on my social media feed from time to time daunted by one question every time: is our disinclination to grant coverage to small groups similar to our lack of appetite for printing economists’ warnings about the recession?

 

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Cork Woman’s Heartache as Sister Remains Missing in India

THIS ARTICLE BY THE LOGICAL RADICAL WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE PRINT EDITION OF THE EVENING ECHO, I HAVE DECIDED TO PUT THIS UP HERE FOR THE SAKE OF THE YOUNG WOMAN MISSING, AS THE NEWSPAPER HASN’T DONE SO YET.

Ilze Skromane’s voice breaks talking about her sister’s love for animals, nature and people. “My sister is wonderful, she is very friendly, warm and trustworthy,” she says.

The Cork woman hasn’t seen her sister Liga since the early hours of March 14 when she went missing while on a “healing vacation” in Kerala, India. She was last seen on Kerala’s Kovalam beach.

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Liga (right) and Ilze (left)

Ilze, owner of a beauty salon in Cork, says that she noticed her sister was suffering from “post-traumatic depression” since last August. As Liga was not responding well to mainstream treatment, the Skromane sisters decided to try an alternative medicine: Ayurveda healing.

“Liga always wanted to visit India, and I offered her to come with me and start Ayurveda Programme,” she says. Ayurveda treatment is an ancient Hindu method of healing. The programme usually consists of daily yoga and meditation routines.

On February 21, the sisters arrived at Dharma Ayurveda Healing Centre – an Ayurveda yoga retreat in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in Southwest India – where Liga was supposed to undergo a six-week treatment programme.

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Liga (right) and Ilze (left)

On the morning of her disappearance, Liga had complained about a “slight headache” and asked her sister to attend their morning yoga class by herself.

“I asked would she like me to ask for some headache medicine from the doctor, but she said it would go away if I just lie down,” Ilze says.

“I put a cold, wet towel on her forehead, gave her a kiss and a cuddle and said I’ll see her soon,” she recalls.

An hour later, Ilze returned to their room and found her sister missing.

”When I didn’t find her in the room I thought she had gone for a walk,” she says. After a few hours, Ilze started to get anxious. Finally, the centre’s staff informed her that an auto-rickshaw (a motorised three-wheeler for hire in India) driver is confident that he has given Liga a lift to the beach that morning.

“When the driver said that he gave her a lift to the beach I felt a ray of hope and thought oh maybe she just decided to go for a walk on the beach,” Ilze says.

The driver claims that Liga had paid him to take her to the “closest beach” to the area, and had asked him to “keep the change”.  Ilze says her sister has taken “2000 Indian Rupees (€25) at the most” with herself.

“I went to the beach and started searching and very quickly realised that she was not there and then panic started to set in,” Ilze recalls.

Liga has left her passport and belongings in their room. The 33-year-old woman holds a Latvian passport and a permanent Irish residency. Liga has been living away from her sister, as she’d moved to Swords, Dublin to live with her partner Andrew Jordan since a few years ago. The Dublin man arrived in Kerala on an emergency visa on March 17.

Ilze says distance never hurt their strong sisterly bond. “We’re the closest sisters. We would rarely fight even though I was in Cork managing my business and she had to go to Dublin, but we still had a very good relationship,” she says.

Liga and Ilze’s parents in Latvia are especially worried and distance is making them more anxious. “My parents wanted to come over, but I told them not to because it would only distress them more,” Ilze says.Not knowing what has happened to Liga is what troubles Ilze the most. “It is very hard when you don’t know anything, and there is no comfort, and you keep wondering is she okay?”

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Top right Liga their brother Erwin and wife bottom right Ilze mum Vesma dad Janis and Family cat Minkans

The Cork woman fears that her sister might be held hostage. “It could be that she’s being held against her will for some reason,” she says.

Numerous missing person posters of Ilze have been distributed in Kerala and nearby areas. Ilze had since briefed the media in a press conference and is reaching out to Indian, Latvian and Irish authorities for help.

“We’re trying to ask the parliament and embassies [Latvian and Irish] to pressure them [Indian authorities] to put more men on the ground and look for Liga,” Ilze says. “It would be much appreciated if the Irish Embassy could help us.”

Andrew Jordan had claimed that the Department of Foreign Affairs is reluctant to offer aid as Liga is not an Irish citizen. The Department of Foreign Affairs’s press office says “the department does not comment on individual cases” and did not respond to queries regarding their general policy toward similar situations.

The Latvian embassy in India, however, says they are working closely with Irish authorities to find Liga.

“The Embassy of Latvia highly appreciates constructive and professional cooperation with the Embassy and the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Chennai, who have offered their assistance. The search for the missing woman is a high priority for both Embassies in India,” reads the Latvian Embassy’s statement. According to the Latvian Embassy in India, Sweden has also announced its willingness to assist with search efforts.

Ilze is full of gratitude for her fellow Corkonians’ support during this challenging time.

“First of all I just want to say thank you so much to people in Cork who have sent me so many messages and please just keep sharing Liga’s story,” she says.

Ilze has also set up a Facebook page called “Missing in Kerala” to facilitate contact for people with any useful information about her sister.

Liga is 5’6, skinny with dark hair and blue eyes. Indian police are offering a reward of 2 lakh (nearly €1,240) to those who can lead them to her.

https://www.facebook.com/MissingInKerala.Liga/

 

 

 

 

 

Abtran’s Employee Conflict Drags On

Ireland’s massive outsourcing group Abtran continues to be the target of a growing online campaign organised by disgruntled employees.

The campaign initially organised by a few current and former employees gained momentum overnight when it took the form of a Facebook page called “Scabtran.”

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Scabtran Logo Made by Abtran’s Dissatisfied Employees

Launched about a week ago the page has now gained over a thousand followers. Page’s organisers encourage former and current Abtran employees to share their experience of working at one of the largest customer service providers in the country.

A large number of Abtran’s employees claimed that the company is not allowing them sufficient toilet breaks.

“The company doesn’t treat us like human beings, human beings have a right to use the bathroom,” one current employee said.

“If your desk is at the very end of the floor, one employee said, it may take you a minute or a minute half to actually get to the toilet, given that you must make this journey twice that could take up all your seven minutes other times you have to hold it in. Because if you go over this time, your manager documents it and you can be written up for a disciplinary hearing.”

Abtran Workers Exploitation Cork City Employees
Banner put by Abtran’s disgruntled employees on Lapps Quay

“ The  only time team leaders make an effort to talk to us, one Abtran employee said, is when we do something wrong, they do not care about the instances when you do a good job, only when you failed.”

Several other employees accused Abtran of “providing a poor working environment and ignoring complaints.”

Responding to the allegations Tim Kinsella of MKC Communication whose firm represents Abtran said that his client is “an entirely reputable company and a caring and responsible employer in every respect.”

In an Email sent to all employees, Pat Ryan Chief Executive Officer of Abtran asked workers to “not let the campaign affect their morale.”

“I also personally am intent on ensuring that Abtran listens and reacts appropriately to employees,” vowed Mr Ryan in the now leaked Email.

According to Mr Ryan, the campaign is “entirely malicious” and is “trying to damage Abtran’s reputation.”

“As this campaign has also now made threatening remarks,” Mr Ryan added, “I am working closely with our legal team who are liaising with the relevant authorities to ensure this is dealt with appropriately.”

“There haven’t been any threatening remarks besides constant union pushing,” said Alex Homits, a spokesperson for the campaign.

“Ryan’s Email to employees,” Homits said, “has gained us hundreds of followers overnight.”

The so-called Scabtran posters are visible in bus stops around Cork city centre as well.

Abtran remains one of Ireland’s largest and most successful outsourcing groups. In 2016, Sky awarded a contract to Abtran which created 130 new jobs at Abtran Cork. In 2010, Abtran reported more than 75% surge in profits. Abtran has branches in Dublin and Cork.

 

A Town that is Still Red: Reviewing Lorelei Harris’s Letters to Ann

Words are powerful, they evoke all kinds of emotions in us, and we can shed them on paper instead of tears. In fact, Lorelei Harris might have never thought of making Letters to Ann if words weren’t so powerful.

Harris who is South African by blood and Irish by soul, has produced several award-winning radio documentaries for RTÉ’s Radio 1. She served as the station’s editor of Arts, Factual and Drama from 2013 to 2017, and just recently retired. Letters to Ann will always remain an excellent work in her decades-long career.

Harris was working as a producer on Radio 1’s The Gay Byrne Show when she came across “the words.” Those were letters sent by Irish women who were sharing their experience of adolescent pregnancies and murdered innocence. They were responding to the death of Ann Lovett, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Granard, Co. Longford. Ann who had managed to hide her pregnancy from town’s people gave birth in a grotto on top of the town, as a statue of the Virgin Mary watched on. But her frail body gave in under the arduous task. So, Ann’s soul flew away and took her baby boy with her.

Gay Byrne, the pioneer of Irish confessional radio shows, read Irish women’s letters to Ann on his show, word by word. But they managed to haunt Harris long after that. Twelve years later, she decides to revisit Granard; the result is a cold-heartedly beautiful radio doc called Letters to Ann.

Letters to Ann begins with a haunting music accompanied by the sounds of footsteps on leaves: portraying a gloomy autumn.  There is a certain coldness in that intro that almost makes the listener shiver.

The narrator jumps in shortly after, giving us a historical world tour of 1984 while the footsteps keep stepping on the leaves and move forward – that is Harris’s way of letting us know that someone is walking into the past.

That someone is Harris herself, the footsteps suddenly stop. “Here it is,” she says. She has reached her destination.

From there, the narrator’s voice takes on a Vincent Price tone, painting a picture of Harris at a cemetery in the twilight of Granard.

Harris reads from Ann’s gravestone. Then we hear church bells, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The next character is journalist Emily O’Reilly who was working as a reporter for The Sunday Tribune at the time of Ann’s death. She recalls how they – at the paper-  found out about the incident. O’Reilly’s pain from remembering the events show in her long sighs.

Then the words bombard us. Actress Ann-Marie Horan reads to us the tears of Irish women, shed on paper for “the poor little lamb Ann Lovette and her baby.”

From there, Harris’s journey in town begins. We listen to her as she stubbornly tries to reignite the memory of Ann in the minds of Granard’s people. “I want to forget all about it,” one man says to her. We – along with Harris- find the Granard of 1996, a town whose people want to wash Ann’s name from like a dark stain.

A local man who speaks silently says that no one knew about Ann’s pregnancy even her lover. As the man goes to see if he can find another interviewee for Harris, the narrator tells us about “the words,” the kinds we want to run from.

Journalist Kevin O’Connor is the man who delivers those words. The ones of Ann Lovette’s pain when she tried to cut her umbilical cord with a pair of rusty scissors and how she bled to death, just to be born again as some sort of a saint for all the Gaelic teenage pregnant girls, of whom nobody wants to speak.

Kevin O’Connor remembers a drunken man who told them to leave Granard to leave them alone so that they could carry on with their normal life as Michael Collins’s portrait watched on.

O’Connor tells us how Collins had courted Kitty Kiernan in the hotel where the drunken man was speaking. And how Kitty Kiernan was supposed to be a role model for all Gaelic women. O’Connor, calls Ann Lovette, or rather the dread that made her run to the top of the town to cut her umbilical cord with a pair of scissors, Collins’s legacy.

Harris wants us to think about Kitty Kiernan and Ann Lovette: which one represents the real Gaelic woman? Would Michael Collins take up for her if he was alive or he would wash his hands off her like the rest of the town?

As we’re thinking about Collins, Kiernan and Ann Lovette, the words rain on us again. Another letter, from someone from another small town to Ann. The narration is accompanied by the sounds of children of Granard laughing and playing.

Anton Timoney, the sound supervisor of Letters to Ann who has worked on other award-winning Radio 1 productions such as Yola-Lost for words and Shame on the Titanic, does a great job of capturing the perfect audio.

Harris talks to a local man who complains about the “bad publicity” their town has gotten since Ann Lovette. He doesn’t want to talk about Ann.

Right after that interview we hear Emily O’Reilly flashbacking to 1984 and how she used to stop the people of Granard on the streets and how they didn’t want to talk to her. The choice of putting O’Reilly and the local man’s audio next together is apt as it highlights the fact that Harris is getting the same treatment as O’Reilly’s –  twelve years after Ann Lovette’s death.

The theme of religion is ever-present in Harris’s piece as it is easy to understand that religion is what makes Ann Lovette a taboo subject for Granard’s people. Religion and the shame it evokes in people.

At times, Letters to Ann appears as the real version of Robin Hardy’s 1973 cult/horror film The Wicker Man. We see Harris – and O’Reilly before her – as The Wicker Man’s police sergeant who keeps asking everyone in town about a missing girl whom nobody wants to talk about.

The story that O’Reilly tells from the minute 19 to 22:18 of the piece is shocking. Ann Lovette’s school principal agrees to make a statement about her on television. The filming crew gets to the school and finds her standing surrounded by teachers and the school’s staff. Speaking over the principal’s monotone voice, O’Reilly remembers how their cameraman could not zoom in on her face so what they ended up with was the whole school in one frame while the principal was making her statement. Perhaps, it is true what they say: if a young mother dies while giving birth she will become a saint. Maybe, St. Ann put a spell on the camera so everyone in Ireland could see the faces of the people who watched in cold-blood as the nine-months-pregnant Ann made her way to class.

The resemblance of Ann’s school with the one in The Wicker Man is unnerving.

We hear an unclear murmur of a priest which fades into an ominous music. The music fades into another letter, this time of hope and regret. Ann Lovette becomes young Gaelic women’s saint. She is Granard’s Joan of Arc perhaps.

Harris knocks on doors; a woman interrupts her request right after the “I’m a radio producer from RTÉ.” “No Sorry, we don’t want to talk,” she says.

Then Kevin O’Connor’s tells us about a town in which the friends of the town’s dead little girl have vanished. Their parents had warned them not to talk to anybody about Ann Lovette.

We hear a young mother ‘s voice talking to Harris. We hear her children too. She feels terrible about what had happened to Ann, she calls her an innocent girl but like everyone else, she wants to forget about her too.

Harris knocks on another door; a man tells her to fuck off and shuts the door. Does she try to show us that women especially mothers are more willing to talk about Ann? Most of Granard’s men are reluctant to talk, are they ashamed? Is the whole male population of Granard feels guilty of another man’s crime?

We hear O’Reilly talking about having teenage kids at home while working on Ann Lovette’s story. O’Reilly says that she felt helpless thinking about the possibility of something like that happening to one of her children. The very idea of a whole town’s cruel denial of a young life lost scares us as it terrifies O’Reilly. “Ireland at its worst,” she calls it.

Ann Lovette remains faceless to O’Reilly, to us and to everyone in Ireland except for the people of Granard. We learn from O’Reilly that she was an artistic girl. What does that mean? Does it mean that she wore unique outfits? Did she paint? Was she a good singer? She must have been a dancer. These are different thoughts going on the listeners’ minds as O’Reilly says that somebody told her that Ann was very artistic. O’Reilly herself thinks that Ann must have been “a lot of fun, spiky and probably difficult.”

Toward the end of the piece, Harris interviews a local man who knew Ann Lovette. He is the first person from Granard to admit that the town’s response to Ann’s death was sickening – the hush-up as he describes it.

He thinks Ann should’ve gone to the area where the baby’s father lived to deliver her baby as “over there people would’ve helped her.”

He says Ann was a quiet, nice girl.

We listen to the narrator: “I grew up in a town like yours, I grew up and saw it all.”

Once at the beginning of the piece and once towards the end, we hear one woman’s letter to Ann read by Ann-Marie Horan in which she compares Ann’s story to Mary. A 28-year-old Irish woman who gets pregnant by a man with nine children. She gives birth, chokes her baby, buries her in a suitcase and gets back to her work two days later. Then she gets sick, spends a few days at the hospital and gets back to work again. As the letter says, she keeps her pain to herself as there was no care, “it didn’t exist then,” –  it doesn’t exist now.

Kevin O’Connor tells us how he couldn’t revisit the story two years after Ann’s death as he felt that he had done enough harm to her family.

That is where Harris balances her piece by providing an opportunity for a member of the media to apologize to Ann’s family for invading their privacy.  O’Connor calls Ann a modern saint, and a modern martyr.

Letters to Ann ends with a narration that compares Ann Lovette to the Virgin Mary. And wasn’t that what we were thinking the whole time?

Letters to Ann is a superb radio documentary about a town that is still red with the blood of a 15-year-old schoolgirl called Ann Lovette. And it is about a storm of words that rained on that town.

 

Gerry Adams’s Final Goodbye to Cork as the Leader of Sinn Féin

Gerry Adams stopped at Cork city tonight as part of his tour around the country as the outgoing leader of Sinn Fein.

Gerry Adams Goodbye Cork
Gerry Adams says goodbye to Cork

Speaking to the crowd of his supporters in Cork, he emphasized the importance of keeping the movement alive after his departure.

Gerry Adams Cork Sinn Fein girl
Gerry Adams says goodbye to his Cork supporters

” Let’s go forward together united, with courage and hope and the very very highest expectations,” Mr. Adams said.

Gerry Adams expressed his confidence in the party members and commended the party’s Cork councilors – Henry Cremin in particular.

Adams touched on the abortion topic as well and said that the referendum would be the best solution for the ongoing debate.

” I’m not for abortion, but I am a man, women have to protected and trusted,” the 69-year-old politician said.

Gerry Adams’ career as the Sinn Fein leader expands to more than three decades.

Gerry Adams Cork Commons Inn Hotel Farewell Liadh Ní Riada
Gerry Adams kissing Liadh Ní Riada Sinn Fein Gaelic Officer

The Belfast-native remains the most enigmatic Irish politicians of all time. Mr. Adams never disassociated himself from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) although he insists that he was never an IRA member.

While his supporters hail him as a hero, he is hated by some as an avid supporter of the IRA.

The group is known to be responsible for more than 1,700 deaths.

Adams was accused of helping the IRA carrying out attacks during what became known as the Bloody Friday.

He was later acquitted of all charges.

Adams is the survivor of several assassination attempts.

Gerry Adams Commons Inn Hotel
Gerry Adams at the commons inn hotel

His brother’s conviction of rape in 2013 brought more unwanted controversy to the life of the seasoned politician.

He was arrested and acquitted of a 70s murder charge the very same year.

Adams has been married to his wife of 47 years Collette who does not make public appearances with her husband. Their son Gearoid is a well-known figure in the Gaelic football world.

Gerry Adams Cork Commons Inn Hotel
Gerry Adams Speaking at the Commons Inn Hotel Cork city

Asked by the Logical Radical if McGuinness’s death has influenced his decision to step down as the Sinn  Fein leader, the 69-year-old politician said: ” Yes, we had a bond together.”

Adams shook hands and took selfies with his Cork supporters at tonight’s event.

Cork Housing Activists Demand Immediate Public Housing

Cork’s housing activists gathered outside the City Hall, demanded an immediate solution to the housing problem from their local politicians.

Protestors marched from St.Patricks’s hill to Cork City Hall where the budget meeting took place.

The activists called out Eoghan Murphy, Minister for housing with slogans such as Eoghan Murphy can you sleep? People are dying on the streets.

Housing Activist Treasa DeBarra demand public housing in Cork
Housing Activist Treasa DeBarra

“It’s a political choice that does not recognize housing or shelter as a human right,” said Cork housing activist Treasa DeBarra.

“We are here to urge councilors to reject the budget as it is. The budget does not allocate funding that is adequate or needed to solve the housing emergency, but it could. It could have the adequate funding, and it must have it,” said Ms. DeBarra.

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Housing Protestors in Cork City

The young activist expressed little hope that their efforts would block the housing budget.

“Sadly my friends, the chances are slim that the budget would be blocked.,”  said Ms. DeBarra.

“It will be passed by the same forces that are watching our people get evicted and die on the streets,” said Ms. DeBarra.

T.J Hogan from the Traveller community also spoke at the event and described the housing situation direr for his community.

“Some of us like to live in houses just like settled people. Travellers looking for houses face the same problem as the settlers do,” said Mr.Hogan.

“Travellers face additional problems if they look for rental accommodation, “said Mr.Hogan.

Rent prices have increased dramatically in the past few years. According to the latest reports, the average rent in Cork city is 1,100 Euros.

The situation has led to evictions, homelessness or groups living in unsafe conditions in small homes.

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Housing Protestors outside Cork City Hall

Ireland came third in the list of countries which have experienced a hike in housing prices this year.

Housing Crisis Ireland Treasa DeBarra Cork City Cork City Hall
Cork People Deman Immediate Public Housing

Yesterday, the housing minister Eoghan Murphy vowed to change the law to force stronger penalties on homeowners found guilty of putting people’s lives in jeopardy with unsafe accommodation.

The government has promised to the tackle the housing crisis many times.

The activists vowed to gather outside the City Council again on Monday morning at 10 A.M.

A Taste of French Realism: Reviewing “The Dreamlife of Angels” 18 Years After Film’s Release

Why is it that young people in French movies are so different from their American counterparts? They are more mature and sad. Perhaps, French cinema does a better job at depicting real people.

The young characters of “The Dreamlife of Angels” (La vie rêvée des anges) are just as described above: sad and seasoned. The movie is about a friendship between two 20-year-olds who are both struggling to survive. Unlike young people in American films, they have to work hard to survive.

The movie begins with the introduction of Isa (Elodie Bouchez), a short-haired tough cookie with a scar over one eye. She is a backpacker who tries to make a living off of cutting photos out of magazines, pasting them on cardboards and selling them as “ tourist views.”  The job doesn’t earn her much but helps her to meet a man who offers her a job in his sweatshop.

It is there that she meets Marie (Natacha Regnier). They become friends, and soon Isa moves in with her. They spend their days hanging out in the malls and streets, kidding around, jokingly trying to pick up guys. They are not prostitutes – on the contrary, both are still hopeless romantics. Isa tells Marie about a man she met once she was working with a home remodeling group. She tells her friend about how they slept with each other and how when the job was over she left, and he’d let her go. Isa wonders if she lost a good chance, Marie doesn’t think so.

Marie meets Chris, a wealthy club owner one day when she’s caught stealing a jacket, he pays for it and invites her to his club. Marie and Isa go, they know the club’s bouncers already – Marie is sleeping with one of them. Soon, Marie is obsessed with Chris and his money. She is willing to drop even the most meaningful relationship in her life – her friendship with Isa- to be with this man.  The amount of maturity that Isa is showing in this situation is unbelievable. She has the shrewdness to see how Chris will end up hurting Marie and tells her so. But she refuses to listen.

The movie reveals what American films are so reluctant to demonstrate: not everyone reaches what their hearts long and love does not surmount it all. Marie is still idealistic enough that cannot choose the club’s bouncer – a genuinely honest man with less money- over its owner. The film’s story takes place in Lille, this choice of location suits the theme of the movie as Lille seems to be the least romantic city in France. In this film, we see Lille as a city of dispirited streets whose people seem to be too tired to care.

Eric Zonca made the “Dreamlife of Angels” when he was 43. The Parisian director moved to New York at the age of 20 and worked at various jobs for ten years till he made it as a commercial director. Zonca returned to France eventually to make serious films, and this was his third feature. He does a great job at creating characters that the audience can’t help to feel a strange familiarity with them. You cannot imagine Isa and Marie in Los Angeles or New York. It is almost impossible for an American director to make such film without adding an ugly amount of violence, scenes of drug dealing and nudity to it.  Bouchez and Regnier shared the best actress award at the Cannes film festival in 1999 for their roles in the movie – which they indeed deserved.

“The Dreamlife of Angels” might not be a feel good movie, but it is as real as the life itself.