Dublin City Council chief blasts Apollo House celebrities

Owen Keegan finds the fact that they are only taking non-addicts "particularly disturbing"...

Dublin City Council chief blasts Apollo House celebrities

Glen Hansard playing to several hundred members of the public, 20-20-2016. Image: RollingNews

Dublin City Council's chief executive Owen Keegan has questioned the motives of some of those supporting the Apollo House occupation.

The 'Home Sweet Home' group has vowed to continue its campaign against homelessness, and take it nationwide.

However, the High Court has ordered the 40 residents to vacate Apollo House by January 11th following action taken by the receivers.

Keegan is concerned that homeless people are not being given good quality accommodation at Apollo House, and stressed that there were better options available to them.

He told The Pat Kenny Show this morning:

"I don't think this is an appropriate response to a severe homeless situation in Dublin. And in particular the fact that accommodation is being offered in a building that is sub-standard, at a time when there is – as of last night I think – close to 100 beds available in hostels that [are] professionally managed and that met all standards.

"So I just find it hard to reconcile why anyone would feel the need to accommodate homeless people in a sub-standard accommodation when there are beds available – and more than enough beds available in very good quality accommodation – fully professionally run and managed facilities."

Keegan went on to call out the likes of Glen Hansard, who has spearheaded the movement, for having their own agendas.

He continued:

"I think Irish people are a sucker for a celebrity endorsement and there's been a huge element of that.

"I mean, it is interesting that we opened, in the two months before Apollo House, three purpose-built refurbished hostels... and they didn't get a fraction of the publicity. I have no doubt the celebrity endorsement is an issue there."

Keegan said it was "particularly disturbing" that a view has been taken that only particular people (ie those who are not currently struggling with drug or alcohol addiction) should be allowed to stay at Apollo House.

He said:

"The reality is that many of the homeless have complex needs and we don't discriminate, we try and accommodate everybody. The notion that you would pick and choose, and take some kind of 'deserving' homeless and accommodate them is a very old-fashioned notion. Certainly we wouldn't get away with it.

"It's not perfect, we'd like to have more accommodation, but there is good quality accommodation which poses no risk and safety to the occupants available."

While he stated that he didn't believe there was any immediate risk to Apollo House residents, he noted that "we would be rightly condemned if we put people in a building that didn't meet fire and safety standards, and I'm kind of surprised that a different attitude has been taken by the public and the media because of the nature of this particular venture."