Factory Life: Polish Homelessness in Ireland
In 2004 Poland became a full member of the EU and tens of thousands of Polish people moved to Ireland (being one of the three countries that welcomed in Polish workers – along with the UK and Sweden). They now make up the majority of non-Irish living in Ireland.
Many left a simple life and a strong Catholic background; realising their dreams in some form in Ireland. Yet, the downturn in the global economy resulted in large numbers of people losing their jobs, the Polish being one of the harder-hit ethnic groups. Some, if unable to find a new job, moved back to Poland but for many there was no life waiting in Poland and they remained, homeless, in Ireland.
Marko is one of these men. He and a group of other Polish people have been squatting in a disused factory for over a year. Life in Ireland and the squat is far from the dream they went in search of – rainwater is the only source of water, there are no toilets and electricity and they need to make fires to cook food. They draw on the walls of the factory and wander the streets drinking alcohol, still believing in a better future.
Many people have passed through the squat including Dorota and her two nine-year-old twin daughters, Magda and Agata. Dorota goes out looking for jobs, while the children spend their days with the others in the squat – certainly not an ideal environment for children. However, for them, hope remains as Dorota is not about to give up her search for a better life for her daughters.