Northern Ireland news

Regina Coeli: Rally in support of workers to be held next week

Regina Coeli House in west Belfast where staff are holding a 'work-in'. Picture by Mal McCann

A RALLY in support of workers occupying Belfast's only hostel for homeless women will be held at Belfast City Hall next week.

On the day of the rally, it will be 50 days since staff began a 'work-in' at Regina Coeli hostel in west Belfast in protest at its planned closure.

The rally will be held on Thursday March 3 at 5.30pm.

The hostel's management announced in November that the building needed £500,000 of repairs and had to close.

Staff decided to occupy the building in a 'work-in' protest to prevent it from being shut down.

Six staff were suspended but decided to stay on to help women needing addiction and mental health support.

The building is owned by the Legion of Mary - a Catholic voluntary organisation. The hostel is run by a management team staffed by volunteers.

Workers at Regina Coeli hostel, a homeless woman and a volunteer were served legal papers by the facility's management committee earlier this month.

Trade unions strongly criticised the move.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, said there was "colossal public backing" to save the facility.

However, Martin Dummigan, vice chairman of the Regina Coeli management committee, previously said legal action had to be taken.

"We have to regain control of the building," he told The Irish News.

"We hold legal responsibility for the contents of the building and the people in the building."

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Northern Ireland news