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Monday 16 January 2017

Apollo house homeless 'out by January 11'

Home Sweet Home campaigners at the Four Courts Picture: Collins
Home Sweet Home campaigners at the Four Courts Picture: Collins

Homeless activists and the residents of Apollo House can stay in the city centre building until January 11.

However, the High Court has ordered they leave on that date.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted Tom O'Brien and Simon Coyle of Mazars, who were appointed joint receivers over the building by Nama related company Nalm Ltd, to vacate the property.

The stay is on terms including that no more than 40 homeless people stay there per night.

Other requirements of the stay include that access to the building is provided to the receivers and that the occupiers co-operate with the receiver's requests.

In particular, there is to be co-operation between the parties over the building's electricity supply.

Trespass

The judge, addressing a packed courtroom, said the "law was clear" in regards to an ongoing trespass.

Lawyers representing four of the activists had sought a six-month stay on the order.

Opposing the application Ross Maguire SC, told the court he was representing four occupiers including musician Glen Hansard, trade unionist Brendan Ogle and activists Aisling Hedderman and Carrie Hennessy, who are members of the Irish Housing Network group.

Counsel urged the court to use its discretion and not grant the orders sought, because it would put the 40 homeless people back on the streets.

In a sworn statement, Ms Hedderman said they had taken steps to ensure that the building was safe, was being well run and security was being provided.

Glen Hansard said that the campaign has the support of entertainment and sporting stars including Jim Sheridan, Hozier, Kodaline, Saoirse Ronan, John Connors, Christy Moore, Damien Dempsey, Lisa Hannigan, Rubberbandits, Liam O Maonlai, Frances Black, Maverick Sabre and Philly McMahon.

Rossa Fanning SC, for the receivers, said they are sympathetic to the plight of the homeless but the occupation of the 10-story former office building was illegal. Afterwards, the campaigners proclaimed it a victory for people power.

Brendan Ogle said they were "absolutely thrilled" that those living in Apollo House will have a safe, secure and warm place in which to stay "until at least the 11th of January".

"This is a national emergency," said Glen Hansard, pausing to regain his composure. "We wanted to start a conversation, this conversation is well and truly happening."

Aisling Hedderman said that what the ruling means is that the people of Apollo House will be able to spend a Christmas somewhere warm and dry.

"They will be able to have a shower and they will have other people to talk to on the one day when the rest of us are all sitting around and eating turkey and ham," she said.

She claimed that for those homeless people currently staying in sheltered accommodation, their Christmas day will see them turfed out onto the streets because they cannot stay in the shelters during the day.

They will attend the annual Christmas dinner at the RDS which finishes at 3pm and "after that is over, it leaves people out on the streets".

Brendan O'Carroll is the latest celebrity to support the activists 'Home Sweet Home'.

"It's nice to see someone protesting and nice to see them putting up a fight. I do understand the difficulties that the owners of the building had had with regards insurance," the Mrs Brown Boys star said.

"You know what? If you're on the street and you're freezing cold, you don't give a f**k about insurance.

"You just want a roof over your head but it's highlighting the problem and I think it's going to help the problem be solved quicker.

"I support it. Anybody getting a roof over their head, I'd support that - under any circumstances. I'd break into the Gresham if I had to."

Emergency

Last night, Dublin City Council said they have enough emergency beds to meet the needs of rough sleepers and those who are being accommodated in Apollo House.

A spokesperson said there was an additional 230 beds distributed across four new emergency accommodation facilities with each one having a dedicated service provider attached to it.

The Peter McVerry Trust will provide on-site support for 70 persons at Ellis Quay, Dublin 7. St Vincent De Paul will provide on-site supports for 75 persons at Little Britain Street, Dublin 7.

Dublin Simon and Salvation Army will provide on-site supports for 65 persons at Carman's Hall. The Civil Defence said that they will provide 20 beds for the homeless at Wolfe Tone Quay.

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