Coveney: 'I will work with Apollo House activists'

Housing Minister Simon Coveney said he will work with the activists behind Apollo House and that they have sparked a national conversation about homelessness, writes Joyce Fegan.

"I will of course work with people who are behind the campaign in Apollo House to ensure that we do try to transition the homeless people that they are currently looking after into a more medium-term and permanent solution," he said this morning.

Asked whether he thought Apollo House was unnecessary this Christmas, given the extra 200 beds being opened for rough sleepers this week, he said no.

Coveney: 'I will work with Apollo House activists'

"Well no, I think a conversation on homelessness is necessary and I think many of the advocates who are part of the Apollo House and Home Sweet Home campaign are very sincere in their determination to get people talking about homelessness and what is the appropriate response to that," Minister Coveney stated.

He was speaking to the media at the launch of the Simon Communities of Ireland's annual report for 2015.

However, the minister said homeless people have complex needs and require suitable accommodation.

Coveney: 'I will work with Apollo House activists'

"I don't think it's a solution for people who are homeless to actually be accommodated in a building that's probably not suitable for that. I don't know because I haven't visited Apollo House," he said.

"Where I want vulnerable homeless people to be is in the care of organisations like the Simon Community, like Peter McVerry Trust, like Focus Ireland, like St Vincent de Paul, like many other organisations that have the experience to deal with the complexity of supporting homeless people and to help them transition into social housing," he added.

He also referred to the High Court case being held at 10.30am this morning, where the receivers of Apollo House are seeking an order to vacate the residents on health and safety grounds.

"We're not looking to make an example of anybody. There is a court case this morning that will take its course," the minister said.

However, he did state that "proactive campaigning," had started a conversation.

"Across the country we have had a national conversation about homelessness linked to proactive campaigning and in many ways I understand where that's coming from in terms of frustration," said Minister Coveney.

The Home Sweet Home campaign is jointly organised by the Irish Housing Network and various trade unionists as well as receiving backing from celebrities such as Saoirse Ronan, Jim Sheridan and Glen Hansard.

Approximately 32 people were housed there last night.


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