Fr Peter McVerry: Apollo House occupation has highlighted homeless crisis in 'extraordinary way'

Home Sweet Home have said they will consult with their legal team between now and January 11th

Fr Peter McVerry: Apollo House occupation has highlighted homeless crisis in 'extraordinary way'

Singer Glen Hansard and Brendan Ogle speaking to the media about the Apollo House case outside the Four Courts. Image: RollingNews.ie

Homelessness campaigner Father Peter McVerry says the Apollo House occupation has highlighted the homeless crisis in an 'extraordinary way' - but is urging people to vacate the building by January 11th.

The NAMA owned building in Dublin city has been used as an unofficial homeless shelter since a group of activists broke in at the end of last week.

A judge has granted an injunction directing occupiers of the building to leave, although put a stay on the order until January 11th.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said it was clear that the Home Sweet Home group were motivated by a genuine concern for the plight of the homeless, but he had to consider the fact that they are clearly trespassing.

Home Sweet Home said they will consult with their legal team between now and January 11th, and have invited Minister Simon Coveney to visit the building tomorrow morning.

Musician Glen Hansard, who has been one of the people behind the initiative, said: "We wanted to start a conversation. That conversation is well and truly happening [...] This is a great decision today, and we'll continue on."

The Receivers to Apollo House welcomed today's High Court decision, saying they are hopeful the campaigners will work with them to meet the courts directions.

In a statement they said: "We do not want to see any homeless person currently in Apollo House put out on the streets and since this occupation began we have been actively working to identify a longer term solution for their situation. 

"As Dublin City Council told the court today, there is more suitable accommodation available in Dublin City Centre that can provide long term care and support to those seeking shelter. We will continue to work with Home Sweet Home, Dublin City Council and homeless agencies over the next three weeks to assist homeless people in Apollo House move to more appropriate accommodation."

Speaking on Newstalk Drive, Father Peter McVerry observed: "It has highlighted the issue in an extraordinary way, and it has generated public support in a way that nothing in the past few years has been able to do.

"So I would not favour staying beyond the 11th of January. I think they should vacate the building, and they should agitate in order to provide better facilities for all homeless people".

He added: "What they have highlighted is the fact that there are thousands of empty buildings around the place [...] that could be used to give accommodation to homeless people, and to give long term accommodation to homeless people which is always the objective.

"We need to simply take them over. We need to purchase them - compulsorily purchase them if necessary. But the buildings are there."