Thursday 23 November 2017

Activists defy court order to quit Apollo

General view of people taking part in a vigil outside Apollo House. Poolbeg street, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
General view of people taking part in a vigil outside Apollo House. Poolbeg street, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ian Begley

Apollo House activists have ignored a court order to leave the building and remain "hell bent" on remaining in the property until all its inhabitants are housed.

Over 100 supporters of the Home Sweet Home (HSH) campaign formed a human chain around the building yesterday morning to express their anger following the High Court's decision.

The campaigners are now in breach of the court order and illegally occupying the building.

However, their decision to defy this ruling could see them forcefully evicted by the authorities.

HSH spokesperson Freda Mullen-Hughes told the Irish Independent the volunteers have a duty of care to the 10 remaining residents.

"The fact of the matter is that we don't want this building," she said, "but unless every one of these people are housed, we're not going anywhere."

Asked if the HSH campaign will cease to operate if the last 10 occupants are housed, Ms Hughes said: "This is barely the beginning.

"We haven't made any definite future plans yet, but the HSH campaign and the Irish Housing Network have chosen not to stop.

"We will continue to fight for the rights of homeless people until the Government change their attitude towards this crisis," she said.

On Tuesday, eight residents returned to Apollo House citing unsuitable conditions in the alternative accommodation offered to them.

One resident claimed he was offered a room with blood on the walls and mattress.

Intolerable

Mr Justice Gilligan stated that the High Court could "not stand idly by and allow the trespass to continue".

He went on to say if the situation was "allowed to drag on" this would be "an intolerable situation in a democratic state".

Speaking at the demonstration, Apollo House occupant and volunteer Tony Walsh said the campaigners have "raised the bar" on how to run a homeless hostel.

"I believe the Government are downplaying the homeless situation in Dublin. They have told us that Dublin City Council can house every homeless person across the capital and that there's no need for Apollo House.

"However, every night since we occupied this building, doorways around the city are full of rough sleepers. The hostels that the council provides are not suitable for homeless people at all and are far too dangerous.

"Apollo House is how a hostel should be run and we're hoping that DCC will follow suit," he said.

Last night, supporters of the movement held a vigil and a sleep-out outside the building.

The receivers will lodge an attachment of committal tomorrow at 10am.

Irish Independent

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