Home Sweet Home campaigners to attend meeting with Housing Minister tomorrow

The Apollo House occupiers say they have 'no intention' of registering as a political party or charity

Home Sweet Home campaigners to attend meeting with Housing Minister tomorrow

Image: RollingNews.ie

The occupiers of Apollo House have agreed to attend a meeting with Housing Minister Simon Coveney tomorrow.

Home Sweet Home campaigners have been occupying Apollo House in Dublin city centre since last month, offering accommodation and services to homeless people. The group has been ordered by a judge to leave the building by next Wednesday, January 11th.

Today, the group responded to an invitation from Minister Coveney, saying they will send a delegation of seven members to meet with him tomorrow.

Home Sweet Home also published a list of campaign demands - including private rooms in emergency accommodation, and for all emergency beds to be offered on a six-month basis.

The group also says Michael Noonan should use his ministerial powers to force NAMA to turn over empty buildings for social housing.

Trade union organiser Brendan Ogle says the campaign wants meaningful action from the Government before it agrees to leave Apollo House.

"What can happen is the Minister and the Government can signal very easily a change in direction, where they can respond to the huge groundswell of public opinion that will say - and is saying through this campaign - 'enough is enough'."

Apollo House volunteer and Irish Housing Network spokesperson Rosie Leonard spoke to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, a few hours before the Home Sweet Home press conference.

"We've no intention of registering as a charity, because that's not we are," she told Shane. "The money that's being used is to keep Apollo House running. For example, we've reheated the building three times with oil - it's a ten-storey building, so that's an expensive endeavour.

"We don't need to register as a political party, but we do need to make contact with SIPO [Standards In Public Office Commission], which I believe is happening. We have legal advice on that. But we have no intention of registering as a political party or charity as we're much more than that".

She also responded by calls from Brendan Kenny - deputy chief executive and head of housing with Dublin City Council - for homeless people to not stay in Apollo House.

He told The Irish Times: “There is better quality accommodation in the city and there are unused and available spaces. At one stage over the Christmas there were 100 bed spaces in the city while people were residing in Apollo House.”

Rosie responded by observing: "That's kind of been the tone of DCC's interaction to us. If there are 100 beds, and we want to clarify what that means because Apollo House has raised the standards of what people can expect in accommodation like this."

She said current accommodation standards are "absolutely horrific, it's not dignified - and Apollo House is setting a better standard that people cannot live like that".