Coveney invited to meet with residents of Apollo House

Home Sweet Home spokesperson says the occupation has now become a “symbol of a national people’s housing movement"

Coveney invited to meet with residents of Apollo House

Simon Coveney speaking to the media outside the Custom House, Dublin | Image:

The group behind the occupation of Apollo House in Dublin have called on the Housing Minister Simon Coveney to meet with them and inspect the site.

Yesterday, the High Court granted an injunction to the receivers of the NAMA owned building - ordering the homeless campaigners and residents who have been occupying the property to vacate by January 11th.

The campaigners have renamed the building ‘Home Sweet Home’ and have been providing shelter to up to 35 homeless people since last Thursday.

Home Sweet Home spokesperson, Rosi Leonard said the occupation has now become a, “symbol of a national people’s housing movement.”

“People are no longer taking the excuse from government that, ‘we are dealing with this in due course,’” she said.

“NAMA say that they are wiping their responsibility of it; government saying they are doing the best they can  ... none of that.”

“We now have lit a spark in terms of what can be achieved to put people first.”

Minister Coveney has said there are sufficient emergency beds for anyone sleeping rough in Dublin who needs one this Christmas and, at yesterday’s hearing, a Dublin City Council representative read an affidavit to the High Court to that effect.

Minister Coveney said Apollo House is "not the answer" as it does not provide all the support services and facilities that people need.

He said he is not looking for rancour with the Home Sweet Home movement and insisted he wants homeless people to be in the care of organisations that have “the experience and professionalism to deal with the complexity of supporting homeless people.”

Homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry told Newstalk Drive yesterday that “it is simply not true” that there are enough beds in existing homeless facilities to provide shelter for everyone who wants it in Dublin.

“I fail to understand how Dublin City Council can get up in court and swear that there is a bed available for every homeless person who wants it,” he said.

“That is absolutely untrue and it baffles me that they would get up and say that.

Fr McVerry - who has been working with the homeless and at-risk youths in Dublin since 1974 - said he deals “every day” with homeless people who were told there are no beds left and provided with sleeping bags instead of shelter.

“I know there are 210 extra beds to come into effect - some of them have already come into effect - but even those beds will not satisfy the demand,” he said.

He said he does not understand how the city council can, “reconcile what they have said with the fact that every night in the Merchants Quay Night Café over 70 homeless people are sleeping on the floor because no beds are available to them.”

“It baffles me how they can make that statement,” he said.

Fr McVerry said the movement has "highlighted the issue in an extraordinary way" but called on the campaigners to respect the judgement of the courts:

Ms Leonard said Home Sweet Home have been contacted by people from all over the country saying that “they too are surrounded by empty buildings.”

“They too are fed up with the homeless crisis as it is,” she said.

“I can’t say if Apollo House is going to be here on the 11th of January. Maybe it won’t be here on the 11th of January but I think that the energy that it has created is going to continue to grow all around the country.”