By Ann Marie Foley - 12 January, 2017
Peter McVerry Trust will continue to liaise with those inside Apollo House, following the High Court judgment which means that occupiers will have to vacate the building.
The original stay on the court order expired at 12 noon yesterday, Wednesday 11 January 2016, and occupiers of Apollo House and the organisers in the Home Sweet Home group who decided to remain were then in breach of that court order.
Members of the public formed a human chain around the building in support of those inside, chanting “homes for the homeless”. The occupiers stated that they do not wish to vacate the building because the accommodation offered to the remaining homeless people was not suitable.
“Peter McVerry Trust reiterates its unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of people in homelessness be they sleeping rough, in hostels or other forms of emergency accommodation,” Pat Doyle, CEO at Peter McVerry Trust, said in response to the High Court judgment.
“In engaging with Home Sweet Home and their occupation of Apollo House our sole objective has been to meet the needs of the residents there. We have always operated in good faith and worked in partnership with all parties to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
He stated that since 22 December, Peter McVerry Trust has assessed 85 people, which is more than twice the number that can stay in Apollo House. He added that by the court deadline, Peter McVerry Trust staff had re-accommodated 76 people.
“We have extended an offer to the Home Sweet Home to continue to liaise with them in an ongoing basis and make available our supports,” said Pat Doyle.
Sr Stan, founder of Focus Ireland, said of the Apollo House protest: “It is another voice. It calls attention to the housing situation, it widens the debate but I would like to see the debate widened even more, around the housing crisis and not just those sleeping rough.”
Speaking on the Ray D’Arcy show on Wednesday afternoon, she added: “Their aim is very laudable – to end the shortage of houses – because it is a scandal. However, I would like to see them do it within the law, and I would encourage them to do it within the law.”
She said that when she started Focus Ireland in the 1980s she was convinced that the homeless crisis would have been solved within five years, and it could have been solved had the authorities built the houses back then. She said she felt compelled to act back then and she still does today.
At the time of going to print, Home Sweet Home vowed not to leave Apollo House until all occupiers were offered suitable accommodation. On its ‘gofundme’ online campaign page it had raised over €172,000 out of an appeal for €500,000.