'Home Sweet Home' group may refuse to vacate Apollo House

The group said comments by the Minister for Housing had “raised serious concerns as to the good faith" of their agreement with the government

'Home Sweet Home' group may refuse to vacate Apollo House

Image: RollingNews.ie

Home Sweet Home have again confirmed they will not be leaving Apollo House until "the long and short term needs" of the residents are met.

The group has expressed concern over the government’s commitment to a deal on the evacuation of the building and accused the Housing Minister of undermining proceedings.

The group has been given a court-ordered deadline of noon tomorrow to vacate the premises - however despite efforts to secure suitable accommodation for all the residents ahead of the deadline, 18 people are set to sleep in Apollo House this evening.

Lawyers for the group will tomorrow apply to the courts for a stay on the order to vacate the building until all the residents can be re-homed.

Under the deal agreed with the Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney the activists had agreed to vacate the building once “suitable accommodation” can be found for all the current residents.

However, the group said eight residents who had moved on from the building on foot of the deal had since returned, “distressed that the accommodation offered to them by Dublin City Council were completely unsuitable to their needs.”

“Drugs and alcohol were being used in the facilities offered, which represents a clear failure to meet the specific needs of those residents and constitutes a failure to meet the terms of the agreement,” said the statement.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney arriving at a meeting with members of the Home Sweet Home group, 05-01-2017. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

Two new homeless facilities

It comes after Minister Coveney told The Pat Kenny Show that an agreement to open two new homeless hostels in Dublin was made “well in advance” of his meeting with the campaigners.

"It would not be fair of me - and it also wouldn't be truthful of me - to say we wouldn't be moving ahead with two extra hostels only for the Home Sweet Home campaign," said Minister Coveney. "That's just simply not true."

He said Brendan Kenny, deputy chief executive of housing and community at Dublin City Council had asked for the new facilities "well in advance" of the meeting with Home Sweet Home.

"I'm not going to be competing with Home Sweet Home here. They have - successfully I would say - got a conversation on homeless happening over Christmas - and many people who otherwise wouldn't have been talking and thinking about homelessness were over Christmas because of that campaign," he said.

In a statement yesterday Home Sweet Home said the Minister had advised them that "this positive development only came about as a direct result of the Home Sweet Home campaign."

Serious concerns over the agreement

This evening, the group said the Minister had downplayed the “significant achievement reached by a citizen’s intervention in the worst housing crisis the state has ever seen.”

The group said the minister’s comments had “raised serious concerns as to the good faith of the agreements made at the negotiation table.”

The group said the comments, coupled with the experiences of residents who had moved on from the building, have now, “introduced doubt into the proceedings.”

Needles everywhere

One former resident said there were people smoking and injecting heroin in the bedrooms of the accommodation provided by Dublin City Council.

The resident said there was “needles everywhere” adding that as a result of drinking, loud music and the threat of violence, it was not possible to sleep in the building.

“Home Sweet Home will - as per the agreement - only leave when the resident’s needs have been met,” the group statement said.

“The long and short term needs of the resident’s as of this evening have not been met, and only when they have been met will the residents and Home Sweet Home be leaving Apollo House.”