Threat comes in fifth week of ‘work-in’ by staff determined to keep doors open at Legion of Mary-owned hostel for vulnerable women.

Legal action threats served on workers after earlier, successful solidarity ‘stand out’ at Legion of Mary’s Morning Star House for vulnerable men

Yesterday evening [Thursday 10 February] legal action notices were served on those involved in the occupation of Regina Coeli House. The ‘work-in’ to save the Legion of Mary-owned facility from pending closure by staff is into its fifth week and has received huge levels of support across Northern Ireland and further afield.

Regina Coeli House based in West Belfast provides supported accommodation to women from across Northern Ireland. The space benefits women who have been made homeless, who have been trafficked, who have been subject to abuse and domestic violence, who suffer addictions and mental health challenges. Management claim that they must close the facility due to an unpublished report detailing structural issues; the report has never been made public.

Workers at the facility, a volunteer, Legion of Mary member and a homeless woman were served legal action notice papers. They were told that if they left the building by 15 February it would ‘assist in avoiding court proceedings’.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham expressed her disgust at the latest development.

“This legal action notice at the Legion of Mary owned facility is a heartless move by management . It demonstrates no awareness of the colossal public backing for the workers’ campaign to save this facility for vulnerable women – support that comes from all corners of these islands.

“Representatives of the management committee have suspended, threatened and verbally abused workers and residents thinking they could cow them into abandoning their fight. Having seen these tactics fail, they now threaten them with the courts. But these workers are determined to continue their stand, they have the full support of Unite in doing so.”

Irish Regional Secretary for Unite, Jackie Pollock, challenged the Legion of Mary on the behaviour of the management committee at its hostel.

“This legal action threat is a response to the widespread support which the campaign of these workers has attracted. The legal threats were served hours after workers staged a very successful solidarity protest at the Morning Star House – a hostel providing support for vulnerable men also owned by the Legion of Mary.

“Instead of attempting to threaten and victimise workers, volunteers and the homeless, the management committee at this Legion of Mary facility should do the right thing. They need to move aside so that this facility can be made available and the Housing Executive and Department for Communities must intervene to invest and ensure the hostel remains open for those who need this vital provision.”

The occupation and ‘work in’ at Regina Coeli House continues.

ENDS

For further information or an interview contact Donal O’Cofaigh, Unite Campaigns & Communications (NI), tel. 07810 157926.