Tuesday 17 September 2019

Hansard: Apollo House money will be given to other charities

Glen Hansard, Jim Sheridan, Justin Casey and Brendan Ogle outside the Apollo House complex. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Glen Hansard, Jim Sheridan, Justin Casey and Brendan Ogle outside the Apollo House complex. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Agents acting for Apollo House post the High Court notice to vacate the building on the gates of Apollo House. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Bedroom at Apollo House
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

ROCK star Glen Hansard said money raised by activists who took over Apollo House will go towards hostels and other homeless services.

To date, more than €152,000 has been raised through a fundraising website affiliated with the Home Sweet Home group occupying the office block in Dublin. It aims to raise €500,000.

The group is not a registered charity so all funding is allocated to the Irish Housing Network which is monitoring and running a GoFundMe webpage for the group.

Money has also been raised by handing out Home Sweet Home T-shirts in return for a donation.

The future of the occupation was put in doubt last week after the High Court ruled that 40 homeless people staying in the facility were trespassing in the building which had been left vacant since mid-2015.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said they must vacate the building but added they could stay there for Christmas until noon on January 11.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Hansard, who was listed as one of the defendants in court, said he felt the judgment was fair. However, he failed to elaborate on what will happen once the court imposed deadline passes. He added that funds raised by the activists would go towards other homeless services across the country.

"In terms of the funding, we will just pass it on to the hostels if that is the case.

"This is not about me or the Irish Housing Network or trade unions in particular, this is about homelessness.

"The artists and everybody involved, they are all giving their energy to this because it is an important conversation."

Organisers have denied the takeover and occupancy of Apollo House was a stunt, insisting it is part of a plan to address Ireland's homeless crisis.

A media action plan and a pathway for the future of the Home Sweet Home group had been put in place last Tuesday night before it was issued with legal papers and made to appear before the High Court.

This forced it to cancel future plans to deal with the legal proceedings but it is now believed these plans will be put in place next week after Christmas.

"The idea of this was to start a conversation and the judge ruled very well on this as far as we are concerned," said Mr Hansard.

"We expected to be out by Christmas. We hoped we would not have been and we had no intentions of leaving before Christmas.

"Most importantly, this is a huge national emergency that needs to be recognised."

The group is supported by a number or artists, including Hozier, Christy Moore, Kodaline and Liam O Maonlai, as well as unions and politicians.

Hozier was among a group of artists who performed live at the makeshift homeless hostel this week to draw attention to the occupation.

He told the Sunday Independent he got involved because the Government was not doing enough to help combat homelessness.

"They have cut right to the heart of the problem and created a solution in a very short space of time.

"It is a solution that the Government has chosen not to engage with. It is a solution that the Government has chosen not to explore.

"I think by ignoring the problem we are committing an injury to ourselves and society."

Sunday Independent

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