Takeover of vacant NAMA building for use by the homeless continues

Minister for Housing said while he understands the motivation behind it, he said it is "not the way" to deal with the homelessness crisis

Dozens of people have taken over a Dublin building to provide shelter for homeless people.

The Irish Housing Network says they will provide safe and secure accommodation at Apollo House - currently controlled by National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

Gardai confirmed that they were called to an incident shortly after midnight on Tara Street, to deal with that they said was a peaceful incident.

Gardai are no longer at the scene, but are liaising with the occupants.

The action was organised by the ‘Home Sweet Home’, coalition which includes trade unionists, charities, poets, actor John Connors and high-profile artists including Hozier, Glen Hansard, Damien Dempsey, Conor O’Brien of The Villagers and members of the band Kodaline, all of whom attended the opening of the building. However, the musicians did not enter the building.

"It's scandalous that there are people dying and freezing on the street," singer Damien Dempsey told reporters outside the building.

Co-founder of Home Sweet Home, trade unionist Brendan Ogle, told The Irish Times the group had identified the Nama-managed property in the city centre and was staging a “citizens’ intervention in the homelessness crisis”.

Around 30 mattresses were delivered to the building by “Mattress Mick”.

Figures in November showed the level of homelessness in Dublin rose by over a third in the past year.

The latest report from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has revealed there were a total of 5,146 adults and children in emergency accommodation last month - a 35% increase in the last year.

The figures surrounding homeless families in the city make for even starker reading - with 1,026 families in homeless accommodation including hotels, a 45% increase on last year.

Homelessness charity, Focus Ireland said 67 families who became newly homeless in October were referred to its family services in Dublin.

The organisation’s Director of advocacy, Mike Allen said the figures paint, “a really appalling, bleak picture” as we head into Christmas.

"There is nobody more aware than I am"

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said he has been assured that there is a bed "for everyone who wants one" by the Dublin Homeless Executive.

"We have, in the last ten days, opened two new hostels and we had a court decision today to remove a stay on opening a third one on Francis Street, which will open within days," the Minister said in the Dáil, saying the combination of their occupancies was an extra 210 beds.

Speaking to directly to those involved in the Apollo House action, he said he understands the frustration and that homelessness is his number one priority.

"We are pumping a lot of extra money into it. I've made it clear to Dublin City Council that money is not the issue [...] We are ramping up the supports that are necessary.

"Ultimately, what we need is homes for people through social housing problems, not emergency beds. In the short-term, we need to increase emergency facilities."

 

Sinn Féin's Peadar Tóibín said: “I admire the inventiveness and drive behind the ‘Home Sweet Home’ campaign. I wish this project all the best and it is my hope is that the government will follow suit and put the many buildings and acres of land lying idle around the country to good use – and build the homes that are so badly needed in this state." 

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