Updated at 3.45pm
EFFORTS ARE BEING made to remove the last remaining occupant from Apollo House in Dublin City Centre, the High Court heard this afternoon.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was told this morning the occupation had ended and that all the homeless people who had resided in the building have left.
This afternoon Michael Lynn SC acting for the members of Home Sweet Home, which was behind the organisation of the occupation, said that one person remained in the building.
However it is understood that the person is expected to leave soon.
He said the gardai were dealing with the matter, and they had asked that the process of removing all the materials be put on hold until the building had been fully vacated.
Earlier this morning the occupiers of Apollo House vacated the building, moving the majority of the homeless residents to ‘independently sourced’ accommodation.
In a statement, Home Sweet Home (HSH) said it would “house those currently in Apollo House elsewhere until Minister Coveney and the support services deliver what they committed to last Friday – the short and long term needs of residents”.
As they left the Tara Street property this morning, they made it clear they were reluctantly complying with a court order to vacate the building.
“It is regrettable that in recent days the state has failed to take this opportunity to publicly support this effort to address a national emergency, instead seeking to deny clear commitments made and to use law to effectively force some people back into unsuitable accommodation for their needs,” their statement continued.
This has meant that citizens who are entitled to support services cannot access them in Apollo House due to a Court order. This is unsafe and therefore untenable.
Taxis were seen collecting residents at building this morning. It is understood they will be brought to properties not sourced by the government, local authorities or the Peter McVerry Trust.
The campaign does not intend to make the locations of the new residences public but said “details will be provided to support services so that all supports will be available”.
Speaking to reporters outside the building this morning, trade union official and Home Sweet Home member Brendan Ogle said that activists had been given to choice but to vacate the Apollo House following the court order.
“Apollo House has been vacated,” Ogle said.
“We weren’t going to be boxed into a situation where the residents were in the only building in Dublin where they couldn’t get the care they needed because of a court order.
It’s a very emotional day for everyone who’s been in here for the last few weeks.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, spokesperson for Home Sweet Home Rosi Leonard said that the occupation had been ‘a victory’ and only been the beginning for the campaign.
“We have to regroup now and we have to continue to put the pressure on DCC and government.
Is it a victory? Yes because empowerment is a victory; yes because saving lives is a victory; yes because ensuring dignity is a victory.
Leonard said that the campaign would continue to track how the former Apollo House residents were surviving in their new accommodation.
It is understood that 10 homeless people stayed in Apollo House last night in breach of the court order, along with a number of activists.
A spokesperson for the Peter McVerry Trust confirmed that the charity met with residents in the city centre last night, and that it “continues to review accommodation needs of residents”.
A vigil and demonstration was held outside the gates of Apollo House in Dublin yesterday with over a hundred people in attendance.
Notable faces of the Home Sweet Home campaign – including musician Glen Hansard, and actor/director Terry McMahon – were present.
Home Sweet Home released a statement last night saying that the care of the Apollo House residents was their main priority.
“We have a duty of care towards residents,” said spokesperson Rosi Leonard.
We have a duty of care towards residents. We are continuing to work with Peter McVerry Trust and Dublin City Council to secure safe suitable and stable accommodation for the residents.
Leonard said activists would leave when those demands were met.
In reply to the news that the activists had left the building, Rossa Fanning SC for the Nama-appointed receivers who own the property said told the High Court it was “a welcome development”.
Counsel said his clients still had to verify that the occupation had ended as they had not yet been able to re-take possession of the property.
However, counsel said that the receivers would quite happy to assist in any orderly wind down of the occupation.
Following a request from Fanning, Justice Gilligan adjourned the matter to 2pm when the court is to be updated about the progress of the end of the occupation.
With reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll and Aodhan O’Faolain
Read: ‘We are going to defy this court order’: Apollo House occupiers say they’re not going anywhere