Homeless people being illegally sheltered in the Nama-owned Apollo House building should be allowed to stay there until after Christmas instead of facing trespassing notices, a Government minister has said.
Fiachra Ó Cionnaith of the Irish Examiner writes that Children's Minister and unaligned Independent TD Katherine Zappone made the remark in Government Buildings this morning, saying while she has concerns about the situation, the individuals should not be moved unless "appropriate shelter" elsewhere is found.
Late last week more than 20 homeless people and celebrities including singers Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey occupied the former Department of Social Protection building near Tara Street dart station in Dublin to highlight stark levels of homelessness across the country and the need for immediate action on the issue.
The building is in the possession of Nama, which is seeking the removal of the individuals who are acting as part of the Home Sweet Home campaign.
Asked about the situation on Monday morning, Ms Zappone admitted she has concerns about a group of people taking illegal ownership of a property saying her views are similar to those expressed by homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry.
However, she said if no suitable alternative accommodation is found, those involved in the campaign should be allowed to stay at Apollo House until after Christmas so they do not have to face the holiday season on the streets.
"If that's what provides the appropriate shelter for those people during Christmas, why not," she said.
"It is very complicated, there are lots of things that need to change.
"There is a lot of administrative bureaucracy, we need to cut through that tape in terms of supply, and I'm very glad we're at the point that there's some form of rent freeze over the coming years.
"But it isn't moving fast enough so I think it is really important and I welcome engaged citizens to call for more," she said.