Emotional FF TD urges heating be provided to Apollo House

Anne Rabbitte appeals to Minister to assist those aiding homeless in Dublin office block

A Fianna Fáil TD became emotional as she appealed to Minister for Housing Simon Coveney to provide electricity and heating to Apollo House, occupied by a number of homeless people.

Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte said "that's the social conscience in me".

Ms Rabbitte expressed her support for the call by Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett to assist those occupying the vacant office block in Dublin city centre.

Support groups “Home Sweet Home” and the Irish Housing Network took over Apollo House to provide accommodation for five homeless people.


Mr Boyd Barrett, who wore a “Home Sweet Home” T-shirt said the State should allow heat and light into the vacant office block.

Becoming emotional as she spoke about the situation, Ms Rabbitte said herself and Mr Boyd Barrett were “total opposite ends of the fence”.

But she said he had asked for electrification and heat, and she said it should be supplied for the Christmas period.

Ms Rabbitte acknowledged that it was putting Mr Coveney “on the back foot” and that it was very difficult for him to respond.

“There is a frustration out there,” she said. “But let’s show the heart if at all it can be shown and have some communication in relation to that.”

Ad hoc fashion

Mr Coveney said he understood the frustration of people but to operate in this ad hoc fashion, was not the way to deal with the situation.

The Minister said that there was nobody more aware than him of the challenges that homeless families and individuals faced.

He said he had been assured that “we have over 1,800 emergency beds” and “there is an emergency bed for everyone who wanted one”.

“I understand their frustration,” he said. “We are pumping a lot of extra money into dealing with homelessness.”

He said that within six weeks staff in Dublin City Council had completed a review and provided 210 extra beds, with staff and medical supports.

"To occupy a building and try and put supports together in an ad hoc way is not the way to deal with this."

The Minister said the answer is to sit and work out sustainable solutions where the State will put in the supports.

He said there were a record number of homeless people this year and a record number of people taken out of homelessness this year. He said “2,700 solutions” had been found.

They should engage with the Dublin Homeless Executive but Apollo House was not kitted out to look after people with complex needs.

He said a new shelter was to be opened in Francis Street in Dublin on Saturday with 80 beds and there were facilities there.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times