Correspondence: Regina Coeli update
15 February 2022
I read your article on the Regina Coeli House dispute with interest. There are some background details that you may not be aware of.
Although the hostel is run by a board appointed by the Legion of Mary, the actual funding is from a communities fund from the NI Housing Executive. That funding is being withdrawn from the shelter.
The picture is a familiar one on both sides of the border. Social services run by religious bodies and funded by the state hit by a pull back of social services funding. The same arguments apply to the determination in Dublin to hand over the National Maternity Hospital to a company owned by the Sisters of Mercy.
UNITE has demanded that the state should bear responsibility for the service. But there needs to be much broader provision for the homeless and separate provision for women at risk. A broad campaign should be launched demanding adequate provision.
As you yourselves have pointed out several times, the unions operate protests as a secret garden where invitations are handed out quietly. So, UNITE, the Trades Council, PbP and the NUJ have all held small, separate demonstrations, but there is no sign of a broad united campaign.
Management is now moving to close down the protest. Residents have been removed and workers issued with suspension notices. The workers believe that UNITE will defy a court order ending the occupation. All I can say is that this is not their usual practice.