Tuesday 23 January 2018

Trade Union backing Home Sweet Home campaign granted exemption to prevent former HQ being used for social housing

Brendan Ogle Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Brendan Ogle Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Ryan Nugent and Luke Byrne

The trade union backing the Home Sweet Home campaign has applied for an exemption to prevent its old headquarters from being used for social housing.

The application by trustees of the Unite trade union, in relation to future development at the 15 Merrion Square North was made in December.

The application for the social housing exemption certificate was made on December 16 – a day before the Home Sweet Home campaign, led by Unite’s Brendan Ogle, took over Apollo House to house those that are homeless.

Unite say that it was compulsory to request the exemption because they did not have enough units to comply with social housing provisions.

Unite has also requested permission for the demolition of a non-original, flat-roofed single story extension at basement level.

A new building – a five-story residential construction with a flat roof – has also been proposed for the back of the site.

This also includes three, three bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment, over the upper four stories, all with balconies.

The building has been left vacant for more than three years.

Unite was formed in 2007 by the merger of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU) and Amicus.

Number 15 Merrion Street had the headquarters of the ATGWU, while Unite’s office was set up in the Amicus premises at Middle Abbey Street.

The Merrion square address had been up for sale in 2012 with a €2m price tag. It has also been the subject of a number of planning applications by the union.

In a statement, released this evening, Unite said it was seeking to sell the offices which it claims is in "poor condition" with planning permission.

"In so doing, our aim is to maximise the value of this property for our members throughout Ireland and ensure that we have the resources to support and defend them.

"It is Unite’s understanding that, following legislative changes introduced by the previous Government, the planning permission applicant (Unite the Union Trustee Company), had no legal option but to seek a social housing exemption.  If it should transpire that this was not appropriate in the case of 15 Merrion Square, the application will be withdrawn.

"Unite regards attempts to draw a parallel between 15 Merrion Square and Apollo House as, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, mischievous.  As a NAMA [controlled] property, Apollo House belongs to the people of Ireland.

"Unite remains fully committed to the aims of the Home Sweet Home campaign, and we are proud of the campaign’s achievements in not only highlighting the scandal of homelessness in Ireland but also in securing six-month beds for 84 people."

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News