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Tuesday 30 May 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# medical supplies
Volunteers 'overwhelmed' by support for Apollo House takeover
An appeal for defibrillator was fulfilled within minutes this morning, an activist said.

THE GROUP RUNNING a homeless hostel at a vacant building in Dublin city centre say they’ve been overwhelmed by support for their effort in recent days.

One woman travelled up by train from Galway to donate supplies, before returning home the same day, an activist with the Irish Housing Network said this morning.

Meanwhile, a Facebook appeal for a defibrillator was fulfilled within minutes of being posted today.

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Activists with the group – which is supported by a number of well-known figures, including singers Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey – moved into the building late on Thursday night.

20 people stayed in the former Department of Social Protection Building near Tara Street Dart station last night – and it’s planned more people will be admitted once capacity is increased.

“We’ve had 800 people getting in touch asking to volunteer in some capacity,”  the Irish Housing Network’s Rosi Leonard told

“The residents who are here so far are getting on really well,” she said.

The appeal for the defibrillator and medical supplies was issued as a number of people with medical training have volunteered to work with the project, and need to be properly equipped.

At this stage, volunteers are not appealing for any more food as they have enough, Leonard added. They’re continuing to seek donations of general supplies, mattresses and bedding.

“We’re also looking for help with laundry – if anyone with large-scale cleaning facilities wants to help we’d love to hear from them.”

Lawyers representing the receiver of the building have contacted the group by letter, Leonard said, adding that the volunteers would be happy to speak with them in coming days.

16/12/2016. Apollo House. Pictured Apollo House wh SAM BOAL SAM BOAL

Who’s behind the occupation?

Leonard’s group, the Irish Housing Network, is a broad coalition of different far-left grassroots housing organisations.

Many of the organisations formed separately over the past number of years as a direct response to Ireland’s worsening housing crisis, before coming together to pursue a common goal.

They have been at the centre of various high-profile “occupations” over the past year or so, and are well-organised and media savvy.

They’re working in co-operation with the Home Sweet Home group, which is closely linked to the Mandate trade union and was co-founded by high-profile anti-water charges activist and trade unionist Brendan Ogle.

The decision to occupy Apollo House has not been supported by more established homeless charities – although Dublin Simon’s Sam McGuinness said on Friday he had been giving advice to the activists.

“It will certainly be more secure than sleeping in a doorway or sleeping in tents in the parks, or sleeping in cardboard some other place,” he said, while stressing that his organisation was not otherwise involved.

Some figures within the homeless charity sector have been less enthusiastic about the occupation of the building, citing the serious health and safety concerns the takeover could pose without properly-trained staff present.

The latest rough sleeper count for Dublin found 142 people sleeping rough in the city centre. There have since been an extra 145 beds opened.

However, McGuinness said on Friday that the beds are nearing capacity already, and the latest Simon rough sleeper count found over 100 homeless people still sleeping rough.

Nama said in a statement that it did not own Apollo House. “Any issues arising are for the receiver of the building not Nama,” a spokesperson said.

- With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald 

Read: Pregnant mother ‘had to view men exposing themselves to her and her son’ in homeless accommodation

Read: Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey among group that took over Nama building for homeless

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