The houseguest

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If you invite someone into your home, you do so because you want them there.

If they turn violent, start to smash your belongings and pose a danger to you, you’re entitled to make them leave, or call for help.

If someone breaks into your home – kicks the door down, batters their way in, broken glass and shouting – they have no right to be there and they must go.

If someone enters by stealth – a stolen key, a silky-voiced lie – they are still there unlawfully and they must go, if you say so. It is your house.

If your guest arrives and they are not well, or they become ill while they are with you, you are only obliged to do so much. You are their host, not their doctor. It is up to you how far you go with their care, while they’re in your home.

And if you are sick, you are entitled to recover before you have visitors. And if you fall ill while your guest is there, you must look after yourself first. Hosting can be hard work. Guests need things from you – food, water, attention – and you need the energy to provide those things.

If you’ve just moved into your house, with boxes everywhere, nothing to sit on, no food in the fridge yet, you are not obliged to host guests – unless you want to.

If the boiler is broken or there’s a power cut, water freezing in the pipes and you, stumbling, with only candles and torchlight – you do not have to assume the role of host. We understand – of course we do – you cannot do that right now.

You should not be forced to play host against your will. It is your house.

If you are eligible to vote in Ireland’s imminent abortion referendum, vote to repeal the Eighth.

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