Dublin City Council rejects criticism of homeless hostels

Council official says provision of hostels was agreed before Apollo House occupation

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney: the council’s deputy chief executive Brendan Kelly  said the Minister approved two new hostels weeks before Home Sweet Home went into Apollo House. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney: the council’s deputy chief executive Brendan Kelly said the Minister approved two new hostels weeks before Home Sweet Home went into Apollo House. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A senior Dublin City Council official has backed Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s claim the provision of two new hostels for homeless people was agreed before the Apollo House occupation.

The council’s deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny also rejected suggestions made by homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry that Dublin hostel accommodation was substandard.

Housing activists occupied Apollo House on December 15th and used the Dublin city centre office block to accommodate homeless people. The High Court ruled shortly before Christmas the group could remain until January 11th as long as no more than 40 homeless people stayed each night. The last remaining occupant left the building on Thursday.

The activists, who called themselves Home Sweet Home (HSH), reached a deal with Mr Coveney last weekend under which they agreed to leave the building.

Use of hotels

On Monday, the group said it had secured agreement from Mr Coveney that two new emergency hostels would open in Dublin and the use of hotels and B&Bs to accommodate families would end by July 1st, 2017.

However, speaking on RTÉ Radio on Tuesday, the Minister said he “wouldn’t necessarily agree with” some of the group’s comments.

“The extra two emergency shelters that we are providing in the coming weeks and months were agreed in advance of me meeting the HSH campaign, actually.”

Mr Kenny yesterday confirmed the Minister’s claims.

“A number of weeks ago, before the Apollo House situation, we did come to the Minister and said we needed two more hostels, with probably up to 100 to 150 more spaces, in the city,” he told councillors on Friday night. “We speedily got approval for that.”

He added that the commitment to ending the placing of homeless families in hotels was “made ages ago” as part of the Government’s housing action plan, Rebuilding Ireland.

Feel unsafe

Fr McVerry last month criticised the quality of “dormitory-type hostel accommodation” being offered in Dublin city and said even rooms with three or four beds, such as those provided by his own organisation the Peter McVerry Trust, made many homeless people feel unsafe.

Mr Kenny told councillors he did not accept this criticism.

“All our hostels are run by professional organisations paid by Dublin City Council,” he said, adding the majority of the homeless people who moved on from Apollo House were given beds in the city’s newest hostels, which opened last month. “These are brand new, secure beds that were never used before so I totally reject the standards issue there.”