Nearly 20 people expected to shelter in occupied NAMA property overnight despite order to leave

Campaigners said converting government owned vacant buildings into homeless accommodation could help save lives

Nearly 20 people expected to shelter in occupied NAMA property overnight despite order to leave

Image: Caoimhseach Connolly

The group occupying a NAMA owned building in Dublin city centre has said converting more vacant buildings into suitable accommodation for homeless people would save lives.

Activists and homeless outreach workers have occupied Apollo House in Dublin and are using it to provide shelter to homeless people.

The group has renamed the former Department of Social Protection building on Tara Street, "Home Sweet Home."

Lawyers representing NAMA today issued an order for the group to vacate the building but Rosi Leonard from the Irish Housing Network, said vacant properties owned by the State agency should be used to house the homeless:

“We did this for the simple fact that people are dying on our streets,” she said. “There is an average of 30 deaths a year.”

“We need, as a people, to come together and say enough is enough. We have over 193,000 vacant properties all over the country.

“Buildings like Apollo House were vacant for six years so why are we not using these as opportunities to stop deaths and to stop suffering and come together and do something really, really positive to save people’s lives.”

The occupation is backed by a number of high profile artists including musicians Hozier, Glen Hansard and Christy Moore as well as film director Jim Sheridan and actor Saoirse Ronan.

Appearing on The Late Late Show last night, Oscar winning songwriter, Glen Hansard said the occupation was “an act of civil disobedience.”

He said the homeless crisis is a national emergency adding that there will be a call-out for volunteers in the future.

Mr Hansard called on the government and NAMA to get behind the "radical" idea.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday afternoon, the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said he can understand the group's frustration but warned the occupation was "not the way to go."

Organisers said around 17 people are expected to stay in the property this evening and the group has received donations of food and clothes from members of the public.

Ms Leonard said it “seems obscene” that NAMA is not being used to help deal with Ireland’s homelessness crisis.

She said it "remains to be seen" how the stand-off will develop following the order to leave the property.

“Our main concern is for the safety of the residents and our main concern is about ending the homeless crisis,” she said.