Following the decision of the High Court yesterday ordering those occupying Apollo House to leave by noon on 11 January, Dublin City Council released a statement refuting claims by Home Sweet Home campaigners that there aren’t enough beds in Dublin city for the homeless.
In it they said:
“It is important to note the details presented to the court today by Dublin City Council confirms the availability of sufficient emergency accommodation to meet the needs of all persons experiencing homelessness and currently using Apollo House.
“Further, Dublin City Council notes the matter of the quality and configuration of emergency accommodation commissioned by Dublin City Council under the regions Pathway to Home model was commented upon negatively in court today with an assertion made that such emergency accommodation is inappropriate and poorly managed.
“This is not accepted by Dublin City Council.
“All emergency accommodation, formally commissioned under service level agreement with registered bodies, is subject to strict standards of operation and configuration.
“Notably, this ensures that emergency accommodation services do not tolerate active drug use and exchange and interventions to remove persons engaged is drug misuse are appropriately enforced by service providers.
“In addition, dormitory provision of beds is not provided. Furthermore all homeless service users are supported in their use of services and all complaints are formally examined and investigated to ensure appropriate redress is available for persons in use of emergency accommodation services.
“Currently there are enough secure emergency beds available through Dublin City Council and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) to meet the needs of rough sleepers and those who are being accommodated in Apollo House.”
“The additional 230 bed spaces are distributed across four new emergency accommodation facilities with each one having a dedicated service provider attached to it.
“Peter McVerry Trust will provide on-site support for 70 persons at Ellis Quay, Dublin 7.
“Depaul will provide on-site supports for 75 persons at Little Britain Street, Dublin 7.
“Dublin Simon and Salvation Army will provide on-site supports for 65 persons at Carman”s Hall.
“The Civil Defence will provide 20 beds at Wolfe Tone Quay.
“Each of the NGOs has extensive experience in the delivery of services to persons who are homeless and have staff with the required skills and competencies.
“The DRHE opened two facilities on 9th December at Ellis Quay (70 beds) and Little Britain Street (75 beds). The third facility at Carman’’s Hall will open tomorrow.”
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he was placing a stay on his order on condition that those occupying Apollo House undertake that no more than 40 people use the facilities, that the receivers would be entitled to access and supervise the property at all times, and that the defendants would co-operate fully with the receivers.
He also said he wanted the people who reconnected the electricity in the building to fully co-operate with anyone appointed by the receivers.
He said the defendants may have been well-intentioned but the court had to apply the law.
Mr Justice Gilligan said the defendants were trespassing and they had not shown that the circumstances were exceptional enough to persuade him that he should not grant the injunction.
The Home Sweet Home group said they would take legal advice about any further legal options open to them.
Speaking after the court decision musician Glen Hansard spoke of how the occupation of Apollo House has got people discussing the problem of homelessness in this country. He said:
“We wanted to start a conversation, this conversation is well and truly happening,
“Thanks to these people for stepping up and giving everything they have, we’re learning as we go.
“This is a great decision today and we’ll continue on.”
Aisling Hedderman, who is one of the leading members of the Irish Housing Network and was also named as one of the defendants in the case, thanked the public for their support over the past week. She said:
“We together have the power to ensure that we can end homelessness.
“And only by the kindness and love and compassion that we show to those that are the most vulnerable in society.”