Union questions RTE motivation in running non-story
January 17th: Trade union Unite today revealed that its building at 15 Merrion Square was offered to help relieve the then developing homelessness emergency three years ago. The building was not considered suitable by the groups in question which include Focus Ireland. The revelation by Unite comes in the wake of an RTE news story by reporter John Kilraine which attempted to question the union’s application for planning permission in the context of the Home Sweet Home occupation of Apollo House, which was supported by Unite along with other trade unionists, artists and activists and volunteers.
Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“When Unite was initially contacted by RTE’s John Kilraine on Saturday, I informed him that I would respond in full to his queries today (Tuesday). This was in order, firstly, to contact the Trust which manages Unite property, and which does not work over the weekend, and, secondly, to enable me to search Unite’s records for the relevant documentation.
“Unfortunately, Mr Kilraine chose to run his story yesterday. Had he waited until today as requested, he might have had a far more accurate story but one which did not accord with his false narrative which included misleading reportage of social housing regulations.
“I can confirm that, when Unite vacated the former Amicus/MSF offices at 15 Merrion Square three years ago, we contacted a number of NGOs working in the area of emergency housing provision and invited them to inspect the premises and assess their suitability. The offer was for a three-year period. One of the organisations who took up our invitation, Focus Ireland, came to the conclusion that the Merrion Square building was completely unsuitable for their needs as it stood and would also pose inevitable planning difficulties for their type of service”, Mr Kelly said.
Unite Education and Politics Officer Brendan Ogle added:
“RTE’s decision to run a story before they had all the facts is more than shoddy journalism. I hope they will give equal coverage to today’s news that Unite offered the premises in question to house homeless people three years ago.
“Meanwhile, our members and the general public can rest assured that Unite will continue to use all campaigning tools available on the issues that matter to working people and the communities they live in, including housing and homelessness”, Mr Ogle concluded.