Campaigners say efforts to get sleepers off the streets are having a positive impact

A 'Home Sweet Home' spokesperson has said the group may take court action to force the state to use NAMA properties to curb Ireland’s housing crisis

Campaigners say efforts to get sleepers off the streets are having a positive impact

Apollo House supporters protest outside the Four Courts during a High Court application for orders directing occupiers to vacate the building. Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Peter McVerry Trust has said that efforts to curb the homelessness crisis in Dublin are having a positive impact.

The 'Home Sweet Home' campaign has captured the public imagination since activists last week occupied Apollo House in Dublin city centre and repurposed it to provide shelter to the homeless.

On Wednesday, the High Court granted an injunction to the receivers of the NAMA owned building - ordering the homeless campaigners and residents to vacate the property within two weeks.

Yesterday, one of the main groups behind the occupation, The Irish Housing Network said said they will work alongside the Peter McVerry Trust , “in the best interests of the residents of Apollo House."

The trust said 21 residents of Apollo House have now agreed to move into more permanent accommodation.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning, Glen Hansard - one of the public faces behind the campaign - praised the work of Dublin’s homeless charities and said the movement was all about starting a national conversation on homelessness.

Home Sweet Home spokesperson, Tommy Gavin said the group plans to lobby the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan to hand over state owned property to curb Ireland’s homelessness crisis.

He said the NAMA Act allowed the Minister to use NAMA properties “for whatever he decrees” adding that the group is ready to take the government to court to ensure vacant properties are brought into appropriate residential use.

Peter McVerry Trust CEO Pat Doyle told Newstalk Drive this afternoon that they will continue to work with the Apollo House residents over the coming days:

“There were eight [residents] left last night and the remaining thirteen left today,” he said. “We will be back in there again on the 28th and we will be there then right up until the 10th or 11th of January and we will continue to assess people.”

“Those who would like to enter a bed in the sector; we will be encouraging them and inviting them to do so.”

Mr Doyle said it is often the case that people who are forced out on the streets for much of the year find a place to stay over Christmas:

“People - like all of us - decide where they are spending Christmas,” he said. “There is often beds available where people get an invite to go home.”

“People want to be home for Christmas and our job in the trust is to try and get as many people home for Christmas - and sometimes that creates space in beds as well.”   

The Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney said there were 54 unoccupied emergency beds in the capital last night.

Minister Coveney said he understands the level of public concern around the issue - but warned that it is important for people to “have the facts” when it's being discussed.

Sam McGuinness of the Dublin Simon Community said there has been a noticeable drop in numbers of rough sleepers over the past few nights.

He said the Merchants Quay Night Café - which has previously had over 70 people sleeping on the floor at night - was down at 17 last night.

“McVerry Trust have put in extra beds and ourselves, we have 25 and only five of them last night were occupied.”

The residents and activists inside Apollo House have been given until January 11th to vacate the property.