Protesters take over vacant Nama building for use by homeless
Group of supporters and celebrities have moved five into bedrooms in Apollo House
Supporters of the homeless who took over the Apollo House office block in Dublin have moved five people into makeshift bedrooms in the building.
At a press conference outside the building on Friday afternoon representatives of “Home Sweet Home” and the Irish Housing Network said the seizure of the building was necessary “to save lives”.
Spokeswoman Rosie Leonard said numbers would be increasing as “maintenance issues were resolved” and office space made suitable for bedrooms. Electricity and water had been connected and turned on. She said she expected up to 30 people could be accommodated on “a few floors” in the 10-storey building.
Ms Leonard said gardaí had visited on Thursday night and were satisfied that “there was no danger to people or property”.
However in the interests of health and safety – and to protect the privacy of the residents – she said media were not being allowed in with cameras.
“We will be releasing images of the inside later in the day,” she said.
The occupiers were supported by Sinn Féin councillor Chris Andrews who stood outside in solidarity with the move.
Dean Scurry of “Home Sweet Home” said the the action was “a short-term initiative” designed to provide emergency help for the “real number” of rough sleepers in Dublin City Centre which he said was about 300.
Mr Scurry said “It is Christmas time. We don’t wan’t to hear of any more deaths on the streets,” he said.
Mr Scurry who said concerned friends had planned and executed the plan to seize a building in five weeks, said he believed the move would be successful because of “the people who have shown the love for this proving they wanted to make a difference, people like Glen Hansard. all those people that we look up to when we go to gigs. People all over the country believe we can make a difference.”
He said the initiative came from a homeless man who posted a video on Facebook saying “it would be great if we could get the homeless people off the streets and put them in a Nama building.
“An hour after that I met him in a park. We had a chat , an hour after that I had a chat with Brendan Ogle. An hour after that I had a chat with the Irish Housing Network, I had a chat with Glen Hansard, starting to pull things together. That was five weeks ago.”
Activists gained access to the property in the capital’s south inner-city at around 11pm on Thursday.
A Garda spokesman said that gardaí were called to the area at about 12.30am on Friday morning. He described the incident as “peaceful” and said “gardaí are no longer at the scene but are liaising closely with parties involved”.
The “Home Sweet Home” coalition includes trade unionists, charities, poets, director Jim Sheridan, actor John Connors and high-profile artists and singers including Hozier, Liam O Maonlaí, Glen Hansard, Damien Dempsey, Conor O’Brien of Villagers and members of the band Kodaline, all of whom attended the opening of the building.