Home Sweet Home will defy court order to vacate Apollo House

The group is holding a vigil outside the building this evening and confirmed they will not leave until suitable accommodation is found for all residents

Home Sweet Home will defy court order to vacate Apollo House

Activists outside Dublin's Apollo House | Image: Sean Defoe

Updated 20:25

Eight residents remain at Apollo House this evening following the High Court’s refusal to extend an order to vacate the building by another week.

Home Sweet Home has confirmed the group will not leave the building until suitable accommodation is found for all residents.

In a statement released to Facebook this evening the group confirmed they plan to defy the court order.

"We are staying here," reads the statement. "We are staying here for ourselves, for our communities, for our families, for everyone we know who is affected by this crisis because they can’t treat us like fools anymore"

Five of the residents who are still taking shelter in the building have refused offers of accommodation from Dublin City Council claiming the sleeping arrangements are unsuitable - with widespread drug use and violence in certain council hostels.

“Hostels in Dublin - the hostels that the government and Dublin City Council wants to move us into - are as dangerous as living on the streets,” said one resident.

Video: Home Sweet Home Eire / Facebook

The Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney said there are now three new homeless hostels up and running in the city and called on the residents to engage with the Peter McVerry trust to find alternative housing.

Following claims from Home Sweet Home that Minister Coveney was undermining a deal they struck with him, the Minister insisted he will follow through on the commitments he made to the group.

In a statement following the High Court ruling, Minister Coveney said: "A number of measures have been undertaken in the past few weeks to provide accommodation for homeless people, including three new facilities at a cost of €6.1m are up running and available.

"Two of three new facilities opened their doors on December 9th on Ellis Quay and Little Britain Street.

"The third one at Carman’s Hall, Francis Street opened after this date.

"210 new additional emergency beds are being provided in Dublin city centre. This brings the overall total of emergency beds available in Dublin to more than 1,800."

The statement added: "In relation to Apollo house, the minister would encourage the representatives of the Home Sweet Home campaign to continue to engage with the Peter McVerry Trust and DCC with a view to making arrangements for the transition of people currently in Apollo House to alternative suitable accommodation with appropriate supports."

Contempt of court

The issue is due to return to the courts tomorrow and if any of the residents or activists are remaining in the property - they could be held in contempt of court.

Should that happen, the gardaí may be required to enforce the order.

The NAMA-owned office building in Dublin City Centre has been occupied by homeless people since mid-December.

Following the court decision this afternoon, around 200 campaigners formed a human chain around the property.

This morning, Ross Maguire, who is acting for some of the Home Sweet Home campaigners, asked Mr Justice Paul Gilligan for a one week extension.

He said assurances made by Housing Minister Simon Coveney relating to the provision of “safe, secure and suitable” alternatives had not been met.

Ross Fanning, on behalf of the NAMA-appointed receivers, described this as a “very simple law case involving an illegal trespass”.

He said the order should stand and described ongoing negotiations regarding suitability of alternative accommodation as “neither here nor there”.

Mr Justice Gilligan agreed.

He said it was not appropriate for the court to get involved in this dispute - describing it as a “matter for Government”.

He ultimately refused the application for an extension and the remaining occupants have now been told to leave Apollo House immediately.

But representatives of Home Sweet Home say they will not leave.

So far there have been no moves to vacate the building with a small number of supporters gathered outside Apollo House.

The residents remain resolute that they will stay until everyone is housed.