herald

Sunday 28 May 2017

'We're ploughing cash into the campaign', says Apollo House activist

Home Sweet Home spokeswoman Rosi Leonard
Home Sweet Home spokeswoman Rosi Leonard

The group responsible for the occupation of Apollo House are allegedly refusing to give €170,000 worth of public donations to homeless charities.

The Home Sweet Home (HSH) activists, who occupied the city centre building last month, have insisted it would be used as a means to continue its campaign.

Capable

Following a plea by Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr to give the funding collected from the Apollo House occupation to "proper homeless charities", Rosi Leonard, of HSH, told the Herald that the activist group was "perfectly capable" of getting the best use out of the donated money.

"The donations of €170,000 are being used to keep people off the streets, to keep people safe and to get homeless people into services," she said.

"HSH is not going away and all the money we receive is going towards this campaign."

The group's spokesperson added that they were currently paying for hotel accommodation for seven people.

The HSH campaign has not avoided controversy since its origin, with new claims that a couple staying in Apollo House had a council home in Drogheda and were not actually homeless.

A report claimed over the weekend that Rachel Moran and her partner Kenneth Heeney claimed to be living in a tent before they were given a room in Apollo House. However, when approached, the couple reportedly admitted they lived together in a three-bedroom council house in Boice Court.

Ms Leonard said it would be a "real pity" if this allegation was true.

"We were working off the trust of people. If someone came to us in need, we would do our best to help them," she said. "We had an intake team who would go through a very brief welcome with the people identifying themselves as homeless, and if we couldn't cater for their needs, we would steer them in the right direction. All we could do was act on people's good faith."

Another case where the legitimacy of a homeless occupant was questioned was following reports that a couple staying in Apollo House lived a lavish lifestyle in the UK.

Allegations

The couple made headlines last month when they got engaged, but the fresh allegations have dogged their reputation.

Ms Leonard, however, defended their case. "Mark and Cheryl did have a very decent life, but Mark ended up losing his job. The couple then came back to Ireland and had a lot of difficulty finding work.

"They ended up having to sleep in doorways for two years on and off in Ireland. They were and were so afraid of sleeping in Merchants Quay that they took turns sleeping, while the other would stay awake."

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