Saturday 25 November 2017

Katherine Zappone backs use of Apollo House by homeless over Christmas

The NAMA owned Apollo House, which was been turned into a makeshift hostel. Photo: Damien Eagers
The NAMA owned Apollo House, which was been turned into a makeshift hostel. Photo: Damien Eagers

Cormac McQuinn and Gavin White

A Government minister has said she supports homeless people occupying the Apollo House office block staying there over Christmas as long as it provides "appropriate shelter".

However, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone backed campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, who said the occupation was not the solution to the homelessness crisis.

She was asked whether those occupying the vacant office building should be left there over Christmas.

"If that's what provides the appropriate shelter for those people during Christmas, why not?" she replied.

The building is lying empty ahead of a plan to redevelop the site.

The house was opened on Friday by activists Home Sweet Home along with a number of high-profile celebrities, including Jim Sheridan, Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey.

Last week, Fr McVerry applauded the campaigners in Apollo House on Dublin's Tara Street for highlighting the issue of homelessness.

But he said he would not be joining the initiative because he did not believe it was a viable solution to the homeless crisis. Fr McVerry said his focus was on finding solutions.

"I probably would be with Peter McVerry in relation to his view," Ms Zappone said.

She said she believed in the "politics of people power" and that it became important when government decisions didn't move fast enough.

However, she added that while solving the housing and homelessness crisis was "very complicated", the Government was making decisions, highlighting last week's moves to bring more certainty to renters and efforts to reduce bureaucracy in the housing sector.

Irish Independent

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