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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020
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35 homeless people slept in Apollo House last night (and there are plans to increase that to 60)

Activists say the building could have a maximum capacity of 60 residents.

Activists behind the gates at Apollo House.
Activists behind the gates at Apollo House.
Image: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

OVER 30 HOMELESS people slept in Apollo House last night, following a weekend of extensive work to make the building fit to live in.

Work is continuing today on improving the conditions in the building in Dublin’s city centre, which was taken over by homelessness activists late on Thursday night.

Since the original occupation, a number of works have been carried out on the building and there has been a huge outpouring of donations from members of the public.

The building – which had receivers appointed to it by Nama in 2014 – has been abandoned for some time. Activists who occupied it said it was in a state of disrepair when they entered.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, trade unionist Brendan Ogle – one of the leading members of the Home Sweet Home group – said volunteers had been working all week to bring to building up to scratch.

“The first thing we had to do was get in electrical contactor to put in the basic lighting facilities and secure wires and thing like that,” said Ogle.

Then we moved on from there into getting the running water back in the building – that happened on Friday.

Ogle said that heating was restored to the building on Saturday, and smoke alarms have since been installed.

13/9/2016. Anti Water Charges Campaigns Brendan Ogle said works are ongoing to increase the capacity of the building. Source: Sam Boal

Construction workers are today in the process of installing shower and kitchen units, work which is expected to be finished by tomorrow.

Members of the media have been refused entry to the building since it was taken over. Activists from IHN and Home Sweet Home have cited the privacy of the homeless people now resident in the building.

Ogle said today that it was “only fair” for volunteers to be allowed time to bring the building up to scratch before admitting any members of the media.

“The first pictures that are seen and shown are going to be the ones that are remembered,” he said.

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Five homeless people slept in the building on Thursday night. That number increased to 12 on Friday night and 21 on Saturday. Last night, 35 people slept in the building, according to Ogle.

Tonight, it is expected that 30 people will sleep at the building.

“For the next number of nightS we hope to be taking 30 people of the streets,” said Ogle.

He said the number will remain at 30 for the time being but works are ongoing to increase capacity.

At its maximum if we had a bit more time and got everything 100% you could possibly take about 60. But we’re happy with the 30 figure for now.

The building is “dry” accommodation, meaning people under the influence will not be admitted. Ogle also said that it is for adults only and was not suitable for children.

Support

Ogle said that the support from the Dublin community and the business community had been significant since the building was occupied.

“The business community in and around Dublin have been fantastic,” he said.

He said the group was liaising with the fire and emergency services, other homeless charities and support services, as well as the local community.

There has been a huge outpouring of support online for the initiative, with a GoFundMe campaign having already raised over €90,000 in three days.

The volunteers have been inundated with donations over the weekend, and have said they do not need more food or clothing at this time.

Ogle said that the best way for people to contribute now was to “apply political pressure” on politicians to resolve the homelessness crisis.

From a legal point of view, the receivers of Apollo House - Mazers – have already moved to have the activists and the homeless people vacate the property.

A spokesperson for the receivers said the occupiers were trespassing and that for health and safety reasons they were asking them to leave with immediate effect.

A letter from A&L Goodbody solicitors – representing the receivers – has been sent to the occupiers.

Ogle said that “there was a debate to be had” about the ownership of the building, given that it had been in Nama.

He said the group’s own solicitors will meet with Goodbody in the coming days and will supply them with a list of names of the main people involved in the occupation.

Read: Volunteers ‘overwhelmed’ by support for Apollo House takeover

Read: Apollo House occupation: The story behind how a well-organised team took over this Dublin building

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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