Apollo House: Some homeless residents leave the property

Eight people leave the Dublin site after being offered official long-stay accommodation

Pictures from inside show the current living conditions in Apollo House, an occupied building on Dublin's Tara Street. Video: Irish Housing Network

 

A number of homeless people who had been staying in Apollo House, a vacant property in Dublin city centre overseen by Nama-appointed receivers, left the building on Thursday after being offered official homeless accommodation.

The move followed a visit to the property by a team from the Peter McVerry Trust, a homelessness charity.

A spokesman for Home Sweet Home, the coalition of activists and homeless people who have occupied Apollo House since last week, said it was a cause for joy that eight people had been offered long-stay homeless accommodation.

They said Apollo House now had eight vacancies, which would be offered to other homeless people through the city’s soup-run networks.

The High Court ruled on Wednesday that the building on Tara Street could remain operating as a homeless shelter until noon on January 11th, as long as there was no more than 40 people staying there each night and the receivers, Mazars, could access the building.

Representatives for Mazars and their insurers visited the property on Thursday.

A spokesman for Mazars would not comment on their findings, though Brendan Ogle, a Home Sweet Home co-founder, claimed the receivers were “pleasantly surprised” by how well run the facility was.

He said the coalition was “delighted” with the “direct contacts” they had had with representatives of the Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and the Peter McVerry Trust.

“This coalition is basically trying to mobilise politicians to come together and say, whatever problems we have, whatever politics we have, whatever views we have, when we cross the threshold of indecency – as we have on homelessness – people should stand up and say to the Government, ‘Enough’.

“On this issue of homelessness we have crossed the threshold of indecency. You can see it all over the town.”

Another Home Sweet Home co-founder, film director Jim Sheridan, said the aim of the coalition was to “help the politicians get their act together. And they have been.

“We are very encouraged [by contacts] from the city council and the Government, so far.”

Merchants Quay

Meanwhile, Fr Peter McVerry has criticised the quality of accommodation provided to rough-sleepers by the Merchants Quay night cafe.

The cafe provides rollout mats and floor space for up to 70 people who cannot access an emergency bed on a given night.

“There aren’t enough beds . . . [the] cafe, which accommodates up to 70 people sleeping on the floor . . . they are sent there by Dublin City Council because . . . they don’t have a bed for them within the system,” Fr McVerry told RTÉ Radio.

In response, Merchants Quay Ireland said it shared concerns that the cafe was not an adequate response to the homelessness situation.

“All people . . . should have access to a bed in a safe and dignified setting.

“However, in the current situation, where there is a shortage of accommodation and more people are becoming homeless, the night cafe is certainly a preferable option to leaving people sleep on the streets.”