Tuesday 25 April 2017

Some occupiers of Apollo House - including musician Glen Hansard - oppose legal action by receivers to regain control

Kodaline perform with Glen Hansard at Apollo House in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Kodaline perform with Glen Hansard at Apollo House in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Noel Scurry of Home Sweet Home examines the High Court notice to vacate Apollo House which was posted on the gates of the building. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Aodhan O'Faolain

SEVERAL occupiers of Apollo House in Dublin City centre are opposing a High Court action brought by Nama appointed receivers aimed at regaining possession of the property.

In a widely publicised move last weekend the building, located on Tara Street and Townsend Street in Dublin, was taken over by activists and offered as accommodation to the homeless.

Hozier during various performances by artists at Apollo House on Poolbeg Street , Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Hozier during various performances by artists at Apollo House on Poolbeg Street , Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

As a result insolvency practitioners Tom O'Brien and Simon Coyle of Mazars, who were appointed joint receivers receivers over the building by a NAMA related company NALM in 2014, have launched proceedings seeking to end the occupation and that the property be vacated.

The matter returned before a packed High Court this morning when Ross Maguire SC told the court he was represented four occupiers of the property, including musician Glen Hansard, Brendan Ogle, Aisling Hederman and Carrie Hennessy.

The application he said would be contested on grounds including that the effect of the orders sought will render people who have been staying in the building homeless. Counsel also said that they have a sworn statement from homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry.

Counsel said that the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan would also be contacted about making some of Nama's property portfolio available for the homeless.

The High Court notice to vacate the building on the gates of Apollo House. Picture: Gerry Mooney
The High Court notice to vacate the building on the gates of Apollo House. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Counsel also said that claims made by lawyers on behalf of the receivers are "roundly rejected" concerning the accommodation available for the homeless in Dublin and about the state of the building itself.

In reply Ross Fanning Bl for the receivers said the application was not about putting people on the street at Christmas or at any other time. His cleints have been in contact with Dublin City Council and the Dublin Regional Housing Executive and are satisfied that there is capacity at other accommodation.

The receivers he said are sympathetic to the plight of the homeless but the occupation of the 10 story former office building which has been organised by the 'Home Sweet Home Coalition' is illegal and a form of "political protest."

The receivers say that there are a number of serious health and safety risks that make the building unsuitable for use as a shelter.

The former office block, they say was never intended to be used for residential purposes and required extensive maintenance. They have particular concerns over the electricity supply which had been cut and was restored by the occupiers.

There was also a risk of people tripping and falling down stairwells in the building, there were concerns about the building's water supply and there is no provision for the removal of waste.

The receivers also say that because to the occupation the building, which has been vacant since Mid-2015, no longer has fire insurance and that its public liability insurance will lapse in mid January unless the receivers are able to regain possessing.

The hearing before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan continues today.

The joint receivers were appointed over the property by NALM. It acquired loans advanced by Anglo Irish Bank to the building's owners Cuprum Properties Ltd who had defaulted on borrowing of approximately €357,000,000.

The building forms part of a block due for re-development. The receivers want to sell the property in order to deliver the best possible return for the taxpayer. There are plans to demolish the building and replace it with a vibrant commercial quarter.

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